20 July 2013

Green Archers Throw It Away Again Against UE

This De La Salle University Green Archers team for Season 76 of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines or UAAP can win the seniors basketball championship. That is, if it can develop the necessary mental toughness to close out games.

This afternoon, the team having lost by 83-85 to the University of the East Red Warriors, we all know that the team still hasn’t. It was the second straight game that the Green Archers lost in the endgame following its 79-83 overtime loss to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws last Tuesday.

Most basketball experts agree that many games are won or lost at the crucial third quarter. For this Green Archers team, two games would have been won had there been no fourth quarter.

The Archers are now at 2-3 in the standings. Only the Auld Enemy from Ateneo and the perennial denizens of the cellar University of the Philippines are below them.


We will see if this current Green Archers team can do the same. I saw enough against FEU to know that this Archers team has enough quality to win the championship.
It could easily have been 4-1 and a lofty second in the table had the games against FEU and UE been closed out. By closed out, meaning that both matches were there to be won.

Against FEU, it can even be argued that the game was thrown away. Jeron Teng forced the last shot of regulation when a pass to an open teammate might have been the better option.

The Tamaraws came to the game last Tuesday with an unblemished record. But the Archers made the table-toppers look pedestrian for three of the four quarters.

Those of us on the Green Side who saw the Archers fight off a spirited rally by Ateneo in the last quarter might have quietly felt that a corner had been turned.

Except that the old ghosts returned to haunt the team against FEU, when a fourth quarter implosion made a mockery of whatever ambitions the team might have harboured of winning the championship.

FEU scored 12 points in the last two minutes to force overtime. This afternoon, UE scored 10 in the same period.

The performance by the Archers this afternoon was probably not as dominant as against FEU last Tuesday; but they were still in the ascendancy for most of the game. It was every bit an implosion as the one against the Tamaraws.

The problem, perhaps, is that this Archers team has not yet learned to really pull away in the third quarter so that the fourth becomes a formality. The win against Ateneo aside, the team continues to struggle to play with composure in the last quarter.

I do not know enough about basketball to critique the way DLSU coach Juno Sauler shuffles his players or sets his patterns.

But even discounting the coaching factor, if you lose in the endgame, then it is either lack stamina or lack of mental toughness. The Archers’ energy levels looked alright. It has to be the latter.

What this Green Archers team needs is a good run of wins for the players to acquire self-belief and get that happy feeling that all championship teams enjoy.

I am not quite ready to throw in the towel; and, indeed, there are still nine games to play. Even during the Franz Pumaren years, it was not unusual for the Archers to find themselves in the position that they are now.

Of course, during this era, the Archers being the champions that they were, they always had the knack for picking themselves up as the league wore on.

We will see if this current Green Archers team can do the same. I saw enough against FEU to know that this Archers team has enough quality to win the championship.

But its mental fragility can also send it on a tailspin. I hope Sauler has a cure for this inside his bag of tricks.











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