Keys To Winning For Ateneo and La Salle
Every time I’m assigned to cover an Ateneo – DLSU game, the production team wants me to put together a basic set of keys to winning for both teams. How i put this together is a combination of analyzing the team and player stats, the general trend of the team at the moment, and of course how they match up with each other. One game down and more to go. Nobody expected it to be one game apart. But here we are just hours away from the sequel for 2009. Below are the keys i feel are essential for each team to win. Alphabetical order now, so Ateneo first.
1) Move the ball, Move without the ball
So many times i noticed in the first half of the the first encounter that Ateneo lacked ball movement. Why? They settled for hitting Rabeh at the post and made an effort to space out well. They did that, and when the D of La Salle did collapse on him at the post, he’d kick it out. Problem was DLSU did a good job at rotating in the 1st half and was able to challenge the 3s of Ateneo that were not falling at the start.
We’ve seen Ateneo be effective too with players cutting to the basket and moving well without the ball. Rabeh is an above average passer off the double. They need to cut and show him the options to dump in the paint and not stand around and watch him. Or settle for one kick-out pass then one shot.
2) Defend the paint with intensity
Yes one may argue they had defenders in the paint when Webb kept cutting and slashing in there in the first half. But they were hardly their usual self. In that lackluster effort to play interior D in the first half, they hardly went to fully challenge Webb and the other slashers of La Salle. I even dared say on air that it seemed like a red carpet was rolled out for him and they welcomed him “openly”, literally. So for the next game I’m sure Ateneans will be praying that the bigs learned their lesson and challenge him and other slashers and block or if not alter their shots.
3) Limit turnovers
Ateneans don’t need to hear this more and more against La Salle. But its like a fact of life now. Its like you eat beans, you fart. You jump up and gravity brings you down. You play DLSU and they will force you to turnovers so you gotta take damn good care of that ball and break the press well. Although we gotta give credit where credit is due, Ateneo is in fact the #3 team in the UAAP with regards to limiting their turnovers at 16.4 per game . They just have to continue just that to get that win.
1) Veterans need to show up, seriously.
I’ve heard so many folks, even DLSU alumni fans kid about the below par play of their veterans. Seriously, they need to file a missing persons report or check if there are aliens who stole their joojoo like in Michael Jordan’s Space Jam movie. Why? Coz we all know how damn good they are,how damn good they should and can be, and how damn good they should have improved this year. But for some odd reason with the absence of Rico and Jayvee, they have taken a step backwards in their development. Guys like Bagatsing, Malabes, Barua, Mangahas, Villanueva, Atkins, Co, and Ferdninand.
We all know how good they and how good they should be but i doubt anybody would argue that they have been significantly below par this year. Webb, one of the younger guys on the team is leading them in scoring even before his explosion last week. Mangahas yes is at 2nd on the team, but 8.4ppg? That’s not gonna cut if you are the guy expected to carry the team with Casio and Rico gone. Malabes has for some strange reason been really off. Many times you see him jack up an air-ball inexplicably even if he’s wide open. Bader is shooting only 24% this year, 16% from 3. And when you talk about good shooters who are strangely off, PeeJay Barua although he hit the 2 big threes vs UST, has been ice cold as well. He has shot 2 for 21 from 3, yes that is 9.5%. I like PeeJay, he was able to hit big shots in big games last year. I expected him more than the others to have a break out year with Casio gone, but sadly, we’re all still waiting him to bust out from hibernation.
2) Help and rotate quickly on D
DLSU is fully aware that they cannot match up man for man vs Ateneo at the post. Rabeh is just too big and gifted with his repertoire that Ferdinand, Co, Bringas, or Andrada cannot stop him one on one. But hey yeah Yutien had two awesome blocks on him. But they still need to help and collapse on Rabeh, if not even double team him when he gets too deep in the paint. When they do that, they have to be ready to rotate quickly on the perimeter to challenge Ateneo’s shots. They did that well for 3 quarters, just not in the 4th when Reyes and Salamat killed them with 3s.
3) Force turnovers and convert to TO points
This is the counterpart of Ateneo’s keys is a no-brainer. DLSU is still the best full court pressing team in the country. You will be amazed how many variations of a full court press the Pumarens have stashed in their playbooks. Its awesome. DLSU is second only to NU at forcing turnovers (24.6ppg) and converting it to turnover points (20.7ppg). But more than ever they have to turn up the juice and make this weapon their juggernaut against Ateneo, specially given the fact that as a team they have not been shooting well from the floor. So easy baskets off steals and in transition are likewise key for them to win.
So who will win? Heck i don’t do and never do fearless forecasts. Specially in Ateneo – La Salle games where we all know anything can happen, even the insane and magical.
All i ask for is a great hard fought game full of heart and intensity as we all bear witness to history as it continues to unfold before our very eyes.
See you all at the big dome or through the boob tube!
Comments are welcome! But be nice! 😉