Beyond the numbers
Published on July 21st, 2014 | by DLSU Sports
A sea of green and blue clogged the Big Dome with growling school chants and thunderous applauses each and every play. The Ateneo-La Salle basketball game was played how it was supposed to be played – a seesaw scuffle between two UAAP powerhouses featuring exchanges of treys, defensive stops, and physical play.
Yet, no matter how competitively good the game was, only one team and its avid supporters would leave the arena as winners after the final horn had sounded.
The first round match-up was a close call as both teams exerted their best efforts in scoring more than the other. As the final canto approached, Ateneo leading by just two points, UAAP fans watching live and on national TV could not help but to grasp for breath.
The defending champions Green Archers, after leading by as much as nine points in the first quarter, played catch-up in the remainder of the game once the young and hungry Blue Eagles wrested control of the game.
Everybody was aware that star players in the likes of Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Almond Vosotros, Kiefer Ravena, Chris Newsome, and Von Pessumal would deliver in the clutch.
In fact, they were anticipating it.
As each play from both teams was gracefully cheered upon, it was Kiefer Ravena who delivered in the pressure-packed moment after hitting three consecutive contested treys, pushing the lead to double digits. A fourth triple that stretched the Eagles’ advantage to 14 in the dying minutes all but assured an Ateneo win with about less than two minutes to go. Ravena’s impeccable display from beyond the arc in those moments reminded La Salle of Mike Tolomia who also torched them similarly in the team’s season-opener.
Even faced with a seemingly insurmountable deficit, the Archers did not give up and acted with the hope of accomplishing a miraculous comeback. However, they were unable to recover despite putting ex-Archer Alfonso Gotladera into the charity stripes, hoping that he would miss.
What went wrong
Defensive lapses cost the Archers this hard-fought game. The Taft-based squad squandered 36 4th quarter points to the fast-paced Eagles.
The loss of Thomas Torres, who left the game due to an injury, softened the backcourt’s defensive toughness. There were in-game adjustments made by Coach Juno Sauler with Kib Montalbo and Julian Sargent inserted into the game to fill Torres’ void. Both contributed significantly but were minimized when Ateneo mounted a game-changing rally in the fourth.
Also, the Green Archers also had an off night in the offensive end. DLSU marksman Almond Vosotros was 4 of 11 from beyond the arc. Jeron Teng was 6 of 20 from the field for a dismal 30%. Arnold van Opstal did score 10 points, but had a relatively tame night—only taking five shots, making three of them while also converting four shots from the stripe. Van Opstal’s dangerous inside play was well-scouted by the Ateneans who crowded the paint whenever the lanky 6’9” center has the leather It proved to be effective as van Opstal was barely a factor in the first half. Jason Perkins scored 25 points but it all went in vain as they found it difficult to contain Ateneo from the outside for much of the game.
La Salle, as a team, shot only 40% from the field despite the presence of quality big men who hold an advantage in rebounding and supposed to find it easier to score buckets from close range. Ateneo even outnumbered La Salle in rebounds, 53-52, a figure that probably irked Sauler, Jun Limpot and the rest of the coaching staff.
A game-changing full-court press also stifled La Salle’s surge in the opening half. The Eagles forced turnovers that were converted to points to bring the Archers’ lead down until they began owning the lead in the game.
Ateneo won this rubber match through their high-octane offense –something DLSU is not known to be consistent for. The Green Archers were known for their inside-outside offense. Ateneo Head Coach Bo Perasol even noted in the post-game interview that they caught La Salle in a ‘bad game,’ acknowledging the Archers they faced could have been more lethal than what showed up yesterday.
Nonetheless, it was a game which went down to the wire. It only took a moment of brilliance from one of the marquee names to kill the chances of the opposing team. Yesterday, it was Kiefer Ravena who reminded Lasallians that he can carry the team once given a chance.
As expected. The rematch beckons and a classic rivalry match is sure to take place with stakes going to be higher with the Final Four a lot closer than this weekend.