Archers, Warriors finish with lackluster UAAP season

De La Salle University's Jeron Teng (left) and University of the East's Edgar Charcos | Efigenio Toledo IV/Philstar.com Composite Image

La Salle Green Archers (6-8, fifth)
 
It was a dismal season for a team that had promise. I thought that the lack of depth and scoring at the slot would hurt them; a thought that dated back to the summer. 
 
Did the absence of Arnold Van Opstal hurt the La Salle?
 
Sure it did. But he didn't help their cause at all even in the five games where he suited up for DLSU during the summer before he decided to shut himself down for the next few months while he tried to heal from a recurring foot injury. AVO played poorly and averaged 3.6 points and 4.4 rebounds; proof of his dismal play where he was routinely outplayed.
 
The better answer would be is the loss of that frontline scoring that included Norbert Torres. If you look at their line-up from last season, several players had better than 50% field goal accuracy:
  • Prince Rivero: 58.3 percent
  • Arnold Van Opstal: 54.3 percent
  • Norbert Torres: 52.7 percent
And there was Jason Perkins who shot 48.1 percent from two-point territory (not including 3-pointers).
 
So why did they fall apart last season? Exactly, that title was theirs lose and lose it they did. Nevertheless, Perkins is a conundrum.
 
He has clearly not been the player he was when he made his debut in Season 76 when the Green Archers took the title. 
 
Let's look at Perkins' number through the years:
  • Season 76: 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds; 50.6 FG percent
  • Season 77: 10.2 points and 10.4 rebounds; 43.5 percent
  • Season 78: 7.0 points and 8.5 rebounds; 34.3 percent
Missing link indeed.
 
Yet even without AVO and a less-than-effective Perkins, I thought that the Green Archers played devastating small ball with Prince Rivero and Jeron Teng leading the way. During the summer, they finished with a 8-3 record and could still pull off upsets here and there. In the FilOil tourney, they defeated a Perpetual Help team that has the brilliant Bright Akhuetie at center. However, when push came to shove, as in the Filoil Finals against San Beda and this past UAAP season, the Green Archers fell. 
 
This UAAP, with their Final Four hopes on the line against FEU, it was only Rivero and Teng who gamely battled the Tamaraws all match long. They did not get enough help.
 
We cannot completely blame the lack of frontline scoring. 
 
During the summer, rookie Andrei Caracut was the team's second leading scorer behind Rivero with 14.1 ppg. Thomas Torres likewise pitched in double figures with 12.9 points an outing.
 
Those numbers fell to 9.2 and 8.8 points-wise respectively for the two in this UAAP Season 78.
 
If I look at La Salle's performance this past UAAP season, it mirrored their summer campaign - they got by early with their small ball then when took a bunch of losses late before ultimately crashing. They lost five matches in the second round; devastating ones.
 
I guess in the end, they were good, but not that good.
 
UE Red Warriors (6-8, sixth)
 
Imagine if these guys could actually score.
 
They finished right where I expected them to. During the summer, they averaged 70.6 points per game. They bettered that by two during the UAAP despite the ascension of Bonbon Batiller and Clark Derige.
 
From the summer to the season, they were like a work in progress. Derige didn't even suit up during the pre-season as Derrick Pumaren dropped Omar Larupay from the lineup to make way for this stretch four player.
 
Back then they still had center Betrand Awana in the lineup (he was banished due to an attitude problem that Manong Derrick does not tolerate). The team was led by Chris Javier and Jordan Sta. Ana in scoring! Imagine that. Batiller only came alive towards the end of their summer and that continued into the UAAP. The Red Warriors started Dan Alberto at the point guard slot before they lost him to injury. He was replaced come the UAAP season by Fran Yu who they planned to put in Team B, get him bigger and stronger before elevating him for Season 79. And Yu was a revelation for UE providing a spark off the bench.
 
Just as opposing teams learned how to limit the effectiveness of La Salle's Andrei Caracut after his spectacular showing in the pre-season, teams learned to stop Batiller especially in the second round and that hurt the Red Warriors.
 
However, Chris Javier rebounded from an embarrassing opening day suspension to become dependable in the slot while Derige was dangerous playing the four-spot. 
 
The missing link for this team was and is Paul Varilla and Renz Palma. Their lack of consistency in scoring and making an impact forced the younger players of UE to pick up the slack. Next year they will be the leaders but they need to put that ball in the hole to become more effective. Especially Palma who could be this team's version of UST's Ed Daquiaog. If Palma put his mind to it, he could create and really make things happen.
 
How do we rate their season? Sure it is disappointing because everyone wants to book a Final Four slot, but with a practically different line-up, they competed and sure put the fear of Derrick Pumaren's trademark fullcourt press on every team.
 
They can play defense. But you can't win if you can't score.
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