UAAP Season 74 Outlook: DLSU Green Archers

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Will the Archers' depth be a boon on the way to the Final Four, or a bane on the way out of contention?

Filoil Results:
DLSU lost to UST, 70-79
DLSU over AU, 74-61
DLSU lost to SSC, 81-88
DLSU over NU, 81-74
DLSU lost to SBC, 68-70
DLSU over LPU, 96-62
DLSU over AdMU, 66-61
DLSU lost to FEU, 68-73
4 wins & 4 losses

Who's gone?
Gab Banal, Joel Tolentino, Nico Elorde, & Ferdinand
Okay, so nobody will really miss the last name on this list right? Unless of course you're NOT from DLSU and you've always thought of Ferdinand as your 6th man on the court. But Banal, Tolentino and Elorde all could've been AT LEAST serviceable talents on the Archers' roster. So what does their exodus mean? It means maybe DLSU should look at its program and ask themselves what they really want. What use is getting the big names from the Juniors ranks only for them to languish and leave after AT MOST 3 seasons? We're not even counting Michale Pate and Louie Vigil here, and we should too! Sure, DLSU isn't the only school that loses players/recruits "in the middle" of their college tenure, but the way things happened this past summer makes one wonder doesn't it? Having said that, in terms of talent, DLSU doesn't lose much, and maybe that's why they will keep on recruiting and recruiting the way they do even if the prospect of losing players is there. La Salle knows they're well is so deep they can afford these so called "defections."

Will Sam Marata be DLSU's #1 option this season?
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Is there a "next" Ritualo, Casio, Yeo or Cardona anywhere here?
Luigi de la Paz, Sam Marata, Simon Atkins, Joshua Webb & Jarelan Tampus
All the names underlined above are going to be good at some point or another in Season 74, but the one I'm betting on to be CONSISTENT is de la Paz. Man that kid can light it up, and the best part about him is that he's a no-frills kind of guy. He curls off screens and strokes his smooth J. He runs the break and gets the easy deuce. Practically no flair. He goes out and does his business -- as straight as straight lines go. He led DLSU with 9.6ppg (on 49% FG shooting & 52% 3pt shooting!) over the summer despite starting only one game and averaging only 18 minutes per outing. There's just one word for that -- efficiency. He won't put 30 on the board like any of the names in bold above, but he's the guy every DLSU fan can count on to contribute day in and day out.

Webb and Atkins are the elder statesmen on this predominantly green (pun intended) roster. This is Atkins's last season and Webb's penultimate campaign, so both will really be hungry for another shot at the title. Neither really blossomed into the superstars their Juniors billings warranted them to be, but by-and-large both have been significant contributors to the Archers' cause. Despite starting several Filoil games these past few months, both players are no longer the first options in their respective positions. But the one department they remain to be leaders in is, well, the leadership department. By virtue of their experience, and natural swagger, both will be looked upon to rally their squad and push them, especially when things look bleak. 

Whereas Sam Marata is a spot-on first option in almost every offensive set for Dindo Pumaren's crew, Jarelan Tampus seems to be the one waiting with bated breath for a crack at the opposition. For me this is a disservice to Tampus, a one-time-superstar for the Letran Squires together with NU's Glenn Khobuntin. He used to lord it over the NCAA Juniors two years ago, but he's just another face on the bench over in Taft. His 3.4ppg and 7.8mpg in Season 73 didn't give his game justice. At his best, I am SURE he could be like Joseph Yeo -- feisty, devil-may-care, maybe a little too sure of himself, but effective nonetheless. On the other hand, Marata has been given the green light to hoist the rock from anywhere -- the parking lot, St. La Salle Hall, or Roxas Boulevard. He's tagged as this generation's designated shooter, but his performance has shown mixed results. Last season, Marata played double Tampus's minutes, but produced only 1.4apg, 2.2rpg, and 7.3ppg on a woeful 29.9% shooting from the field. God awful, but don't expect Pumaren to hold the trigger on Marata -- he still has the shooter's tag after all. I think it'd be a brilliant move if Tampus were given a bigger role and Marata be "tempered" a bit, but, again, with the depth La Salle has, who's minutes will Pumaren cut?

Will LA Revilla be effective as DLSU's #1 PG?
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Who MUST make an impact?
Norbert Torres, LA Revilla, Arnold Van Opstal & Almond Vosotros
We have a Fil-Canadian who's finally going to play after serving his residency, a comeback kid, a rookie who (for whatever reason) should've finished HS 2 years ago, and a super soph. All will be important indicators of DLSU's success, or failure, this year. The Archer fans have been waiting for Torres's debut as much as all Pinoys wait for Christmas, but Torres might not be the messiah many people bill him to be. Don't get me wrong, he will be great, but people should level their expectations. If I were to offer an NBA analogy, Torres's first playing year would be akin to Dwight Howard's rookie year (12ppg & 10rpg) as opposed to Shaq's (23.4ppg & 13.9rpg). He'll be great, just not THAT great.

Who's not happy to see Revilla back and healthy? The other 7 teams, sure, but to any true UAAP fan, seeing a great player like him return from illness is awesome. And if he plays the next 14 or more games the way he did against Ateneo a few weeks ago? Man oh man, the rest of the league better watch out. But here's the rub -- he probably won't play that well all the time, maybe not even most of the time. If we subtract his 12 point outburst against the Eagles, we'll have a player who normed just 7.2ppg while logging 21 minutes per outing. The outstanding thing about him, though, is that Pumaren won't really be after his scoring. It's his 4.1 assists per game that will count, and if Revilla does only that by the end of this season, then he would have met expectations.

AVO will man the slot while Torres takes the 4, and that twin-tower combo will probably be the most imposing frontline in college ball. Both are young, mobile and athletic -- a recipe for disaster for any opposing team. Van Opstal, though, might need to refine his game a bit more. In 13 minutes per game in the Filoil tourney, he averaged only 3.8ppg, shooting just 41% from the field and an atrocious 47% from the stripe. And the things he was supposed to do well, you know, the rebounding and blocking? 4.1rpg and 0.6bpg only. Sure, he played just 13 minutes, but in a team with Jovet Mendoza, Papot Paredes, Yutien Andrada and rookie Ponso Gotladera aside from Torres, AVO cannot expect any more minutes than that.

Vosotros played well last season considering he was the second-string, sometimes third-string, PG for the Archers. He had means of 4.4ppg and 3.3rpg, but only 1.3apg. He should play a more significant role this season due to Tolentino's departure, and despite the arrival of former NCAA Juniors rival Dan Sara and Revilla's return. Nobody should expect him to put up stellar stats, but even a small bump in his numbers could prove to be monumental for La Salle's overall play. He's good enough to start on most other teams in the amateur circuit, but here he's playing off the pine, which, again, speaks volumes about DLSU's depth.

What will help them?
Defense, Balance, & 3-Point Marksmanship
The Green Archers' full-court press has been feared ever since Franz Pumaren first employed it in 1998. Partly due to other teams finding ways to adjust, it may not yield as many turnovers as it once did, but that doesn't mean the Green & White can no longer benefit from it. Using it to the hilt, DLSU stole the ball 5.5 times and forced 20.3 turnovers per game during the Filoil league. It's still very effective. And even if the other team manages to get the ball past the half-court line, DLSU is still a top-tier defensive team. The Archers led the Filoil field with 4.4bpg, and were 4th in the league when it comes to opponents' FG% (37.4% only). Defense is certainly one thing that's been constant throughout the years.

Look at this prospective depth prediction: 
Starters: Van Opstal, Torres, Marata, Atkins, Revilla
2nd-Stringers: Andrada, Mendoza, Webb, de la Paz, Vosotros
3rd-Stringers: Paredes, Gotladera, Villanueva, Tampus, Sara
End-of-the-Bench: Reyes
That is one loaded and well-balanced roster right there. DLSU's foes will burn the midnight oil trying to figure out the necessary defensive match-ups. "Who the hell are we going to guard?" is a question every UAAP coach will wrack his brain out to answer.

Gone are the days when Ritualo, Casio and Yeo lit up the Big Domes's scoreboard with their downtown bombs, but that should change pretty soon with the improved shooting of de la Paz and Vosotros. In Season 73, both combined for only 26% from three-landia, but they showed marked progress in the Filoil wars, converting a blistering 47%. I'm pretty sure a lion's share of the three-pointers will be attempted by Atkins and Marata, but DLSU would do well to trust de la Paz and Vosotros instead.

What will make it difficult?
Uncharitable, Perimeter D, & Clutch-burn
It's very hard to find many faults with La Salle's game, but a close look reveals several chinks that prevent DLSU's armor from being airtight. The most glaring one is free-throw shooting. In Season 73, only FOUR guys shot better than 65% from the line, and of those four, only Gab Banal shot above the 69% at 75% accuracy. And the irony is Banal's no longer with La Salle! So did the Archers improve their aim over the summer? HELL NO. DLSU did make 15 charities a game, but their opponents made 16.5. And their accuracy? A paltry 58.5%, the worst among all the UAAP teams. UP was second-to-the-last, shooting at 63.8%. Perhaps the sure-fire way to beat the Archers would be through the hack-an-Archer route?

Another way to beat La Salle? Shoot the three. In the 2011 Filoil wars, DLSU allowed the opposition to make 5.8 3s a game, 14th out of 17 squads. They also allowed their foes to shoot 31.9% from downtown, with only Baste faring worse. Their insides might be locked shut, but DLSU's perimeter D will need some more tinkering.

I already mentioned how well-balanced DLSU's lineup is, but the caveat there is that there is no designated go-to-guy in the clutch. If other coaches are wondering about who to defend, Pumaren will be wondering about who will be taking the big shots. Perhaps he already has a pre-planned chart or matrix that will tell him who to go to in any given situation, but having that reliable clutch performer in the mold of Casio or Cardona will always help. Chances are, however, that won't be the case in Season 74.

Luigi de la Paz and the rest of the Archers have
the inside track to a Final Four berth.
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)
Will they make the FInal Four?
Inside Track
The only way DLSU will miss the Final Four bus is if they get blindsided by any of the bottom-half teams a handful of times. Has that ever happened before? Look at the 2009 games, and you'll find your answer. Will that happen this year? Probably not.

I'm seeding them as
#4 -- Even if Bobby Ray Parks gets the nod to play, I'll still put DLSU ahead of the Bulldogs. The Archers just have too many weapons, and coupled with a tried-and-tested championship-caliber system, the Green Archers should make the next stage of the competition. But will they get further than the Final Four? Now that's a different story for a different day altogether.

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2 Comment

gotta agree with the analysis on Tampus' potential. gotta let him out of the dog house!


diba diba?! isang tingin lang kay tampus alam mo na na born to score e