This will not be a close game and we might probably blow Adamson away this time. This statement does not come from arrogance after the Ateneo performance. Just a product of my analysis and observations of the previous Adamson game and the emergence of more of our players in the Ateneo game as well. I will substantiate:
Lester Alvarez – If there is one defensive weakness we can see right now with the La Salle defensive game, it’s guarding the pass of a penetrating guard, (either a drop pass under the basket, or a kick out pass to the corners). Two crucial baskets of the previous game vs Ateneo did us in last Sunday. The corner three point shot of Salamat, and the baseline jumpshot (same side of the court) by Nonoy Baclao. When a Jai Reyes drives, the kick-out pass is usually to the opposite weakside corner jumper. A driving Salamat usually goes for a wrap around pass underneath the basket to a Baclao, a Buenafe or an Al Hussaini. If you remember our two blow-out losses with UE (it was Paul Lee penetrating and dishing off underneath the basket), and FEU (Barroca and Cawaling did the slashing, and Aldrech Ramos, my favorite player on that team, was a monster on defense).
A driving Lester Alvarez presents us with that same problem, but with a difference: Lester shoots more than he passes. Stop his drive, we stop Adamson. We have to stop his outside shot first though, because this gives him the space to drive, once he hits his outside shots. Lester favors his left side when driving, so the anticipation of closing the door should come from this side. The reason why I am more confident right now is Yutien’s floating defense underneath the basket. His performance vs. Ateneo where he blocked two pet post-up shots of Al Hussaini, and one driving lay-up of Salamat, will be the same formula in stopping Alvarez. The key is reducing Alavarez to challenged jumpshooter and playing the passing lanes the way JV Casio used to. Simon Atkins should be up for this job. As a final defensive strategy to Lester if he gets hot, Joshua Webb was and still is the correct choice to stop Alvarez on the drive. First order of the day though. Don’t let him touch the ball.
Jan Colina – Colina is the steadiest and most fundamentally sound of the Falcon players. He plays post up, fights for the rebounds, take the occassional short jumpshot, and anything scrappy expected of a big man. He pump fakes well, and is a good passer. He will not be a good defensive matchup for Yutien, but for Ferdinand, then Mendoza, and finally Arvie, in that order. The order is to save on the fouls of the more crucial big men. If Yutien is around when Jan is inside, he should stay as the float defense, not the main defender of Jan. He might get into foul trouble and we may need his shot blocking abilities on drives to the basket, especially if the game becomes close.
Leo Canuday – Leo Canuday is a great defensive guard with a nose for the ball. He is their ball stripper on the help defense, and is strong going to the basket. He is the equivalent of our Bader Malabes. On offense, however, he likes to make things much harder on himself, opting for the spectacular shots rather than the simple but effective ones. He likes to hang in the air, posterize himself, and is very athletic. Bader should do well defensively with him, but be careful as he does have a strong upper body and can outmuscle a smaller guard in the paint, if he sets his mind to playing post-up. To our advantage, however, he seldom does this.
Mike Galinato – Galinato is an offensive threat with a soft touch in and around the paint. He, however is a defensive liability as he is slow and a bit lazy on defense. Yutien’s help defense won’t be effective with Galinato, as he shoots a fade away. But he can cover Galinato one on one. We can exploit Galinato’s defensive deficiency with the up and under moves of Kish Co. If I am not mistaken, Kish did well vs. Adamson in the first game. This was partly the reason. Galinato is not a good defender.
Jeric Cañada – Unfortunately for this spitfirish guard, he lost his spot to Alvarez and his confidence is low this season. The reason why I am mentioning him is that we seem to be shallow on the point guard spot while Adamson has Alvarez, Cañada, and Canuday at point. He may spring a surprise on us. Hopefully not.
Santos and No. 10 – I apoligize not knowing the new players of Adamson, but these two players shoot without fear, but fortunately for La Salle, without rhyme or reason. They just suddenly gunsling themselves into a shooting frenzy, even from three point distance, and this has cost them a lot of their lost games.
What about La Salle?
You may wonder. “Hey wait a minute Mr. La Sallite? What are you doing describing the key players of the other team? What about our team huh?” Here is my answer. Our priority strategies and focus is and always be DEFENSIVE strategies. In order to defend, you have to know your enemy, correct? There you go. These are the people who gave us a double overtime game the last time. Except for my observation on our defensive weakness, our players more or less now know who will watch whose back on defense, and the type of defensive pressure to apply.
Offensively, I am now more confident. They are beginning to know who will shoot, where and when, and how. It’s just a matter of execution of our offensive patterns. Usually, you will know the offensive flow of the game on game time itself. This is the reason why I commented that we can blow Adamson out of the court this time. If our offensive patterns work, and our defensive assignments are followed to the letter, Adamson has a tendency of going one on one basketball when they panic. You want my views of some of our players in this second game? OK, I will oblige.
James Mangahas – He should do well this time against Adamson. Of all the players in La Salle, James is a match-up problem for them. He is quick enough to blow by his man and tall enough against the Adamson forwards and off guards to shoot over them. If I remember right, he did well against Adamson in the first game.
Joshua Webb – After the Ateneo game, what can you say huh? Spider has seen that he can dominate a game offensively. His problem is focus. He gets so emotionally charged up he sometimes does things that can be detrimental to La Salle (like a deliberate foul, trash talking, and forgetting to play defense). Remember the short jumpshot of Nico Salva in the paint in the Ateneo game? He was Joshua’s man. Even if he scored 26 points in that game, that was one of the crucial makes of Ateneo. Franz bawled him out after that play. However, Joshua’s emotional game is also his strength. He drives harder, jumps higher, and electrifies the La Salle crowd. So what do we do about him? Somebody should just push him away when he goes savage and out of control. Let him pump himself up. He is harder to stop that way. Mabe we should hire a team psychiatrist for him? Just kidding Spider.
Arvie Bringas – Here is our main man. He is one of the main reasons why I predicted that we will win big. He doesn’t panic. He has the right amount of Animo, but does not allow himself to get carried away. He has both offense and defense. He now believes in his shots. AND, he was not a factor in the first game. He will be now!!!
Yutien “Tayshawn Prince” Andrada – He is my favorite player at La Salle. You may notice that I favor the shot blocking defensive demons of the game (Baclao, Aldrech Ramos), and now THIS guy. He, together with Arvie Bringas (the Baste connection), is our offense-defense coin. Our yin-yang players. La Salle will always thrive with a defensive big man who blocks shots like a solar eclipse. Wait till he bulks up a little. A little Anlene in his diet ought to do it. Please don’t let him take Arthro though. He might start to run backwards (although that is not a bad idea when playing defense).
Jovet Mendoza – He is turning out to be our utility player, in the mold of a Jerwin Gaco type. Defense, occasional offense, looseball recoveries, overall presence in the shaded lane, and above all, a fighting heart. If he brought his A game against the Eagles, a smaller bird like the Falcons will be of no problem to him now.
Sam Marata – This is my bold prediction for this game. He will step up big time in this game. If the offensive sets are run for him (the triple staggered screen), swoosh!!!!!
Don’t worry about the Bader and Peejay. One game or another, they will have their shooting moments. Simon will always be our stabilizer. Tolentino should take his lead as Simon’s back-up. Hyram Bagatsing is a better off guard than a point guard. We need Hyram’s shooting more that his ball distribution. Tolentino has to step up. As I said, we are shallow in the point guard position.
If we work as a team and the player’s execute their roles, a 5-2 record at least awaits us in the second round. Notice this La Sallites, I said AT LEAST. That loss against Ateneo wasn’t a loss my friends. We now have a deeper player rotation than what we had in the first Adamson game where we came from our first two devastating losses.
Now get ready for a devastating win!!!!