Published on July 28th, 2014 | by Absolut Verde0
Lady Archers check feisty hosts, claim Amazons as fourth scalp
La Salle 64
Blue Eagle Gym – You will forgive the late entry; it was hard paying attention on a day so haunted. Later at 1600, the men’s team would face opponents led by Frederick S. Pumaren. Not Franz of the unforgettable four-peat; the older brother, the first of the great La Salle Pumarens. Who was the first coach of the Green Archers in the UAAP, who gave La Salle its first championship, that turned into a first unforgettable three-peat. Who would be involved in nine of La Salle’s ten championships, either as head coach or team consultant. Who turned Zandro Limpot, Jr., now assistant coach, from high-school volleyball player in Surigao to three-time UAAP MVP. And who twenty-three years ago recruited NCAA Juniors MVP Tyrone Bautista, now champion coach of the La Salle Lady Archers.
Of course nothing says Throwback Sunday more clearly than being asked oh so innocently by a fellow courtside photog: “Sir, may daughter ba kayong maglalaro ngayon?”
Erm, meron, we were tempted to reply. Sina “Anne” Piatos, ”Sabrina” Ong, at “Sarah” Corcuera. So went Rolly Manlapaz’s substitute barker on a crusade to exhume baptismal names. None of the hundreds of screeching first-years bused in by the host school UE seemed to mind, though. We didn’t mind the screeching either; we were all screechers once, except we were in high school, it was 1987 and snarky faultfinding hardcore support hadn’t been invented yet.
Anyway, against the nostalgia of the day, amidst the noise and the haste and the funny business with the names, the Lady Archers played the UE Amazons. It took them a while to get control of the game because UE came ready to scrap and fed off their crowd’s energy. Before you could remember which of the Ongs was “Joy”, the Lady Archers were down 1-9, lapsing into another erratic start.
Coach Tyrone Bautista called time and no doubt demanded smarter play. On came Niky Scott and Cass Santos who provided instant offence in the 12-2 reply; Scott hit a trey on her first touch, and the comebacking Santos glided past her marker in the paint for an and-one. For UE, Chery Ano-os and Eunique Chan would be trouble for the defence, but just as it would turn out with the men’s contest later, it was all about holding one’s nerve. The Lady Archers went into the break with a nine-point lead, yet the sensation did not match the scoreboard.
Only when the Lady Archers made their passing crisper and their first steps more decisive did the separation come and silence the crowd. Nicky Garcia and Ano-os neutralised each other on offence, each scoring eight points in the third, but the Lady Archers had successfully blanked Sto. Domingo for another quarter and held Chan to a single basket.
In the final period, with the Lady Archers up by 15, UE went on a mini-rally, capitalising on a string of turnovers and ratcheting up the brusqueness of their play. Camille Claro and Inna Corquera both had to be taken off for various knocks, Claro for a head injury and Corquera for a resolute but unpunished elbow to the stomach that left her crumpled on the court for a minute. But the matter was settled for all intents by Miller Ong’s dagger three and two of Chay Vergara’s tricky drives.
It had been a bruising, testing encounter, and for supporters of both men’s and women’s teams, there would be more. We headed to MOA with three shirts numbered 89 90 91 to honour a great coach, leaving Bautista’s Lady Archers to rest their sore muscles. They had played relentlessly and without fear, finding yet another way to win, in the best traditions of La Salle basketball. And next Sunday, against the Lady Eagles in their own lair, they go again.
Player of the game: Seven assists, two steals, five rebounds, and a big shot when it mattered. But more than this, a semblance of control that became the Lady Archers’ mantra today: to fight with smarts, to meet street with science, to keep calm and Miller Ong.