Looking at DLSUâs PBA D-League win over Letran
Looking at DLSU’s PBA D-League win over Letran
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - March 3, 2020 - 10:32am

MANILA, Philippines – EcoOil La Salle opened its PBA D-League Aspirants Cup campaign with a 102-90 win over Wangs Letran. 

While Letran didn’t have the services of captain and center Larry Muyang, who is still on Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League duty, I am not sure it would have mattered. Forward-center Christian Fajarito did not play as well.

The Knights have not played well in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League and now in the PBA D-League. They have suffered a massive drop in firepower and bench strength with Jerrick Balanza, Edson Batiller, King Caralipio, Tommy Olivario, Christian Balagasay and Mark Sangalang moving on to the next stage of their basketball careers. 

Some of their holdovers have not been very productive. Jeo Ambohot is not the player he was since he was added into the Gilas Cadets. Ato Ular is vastly inconsistent. Allen Mina has not made a good account of himself since last year’s summer league. Fran Yu and Kurt Reyson have stepped up their production while Kenny Rocacurva looks like a nice addition who will replicate the daring of Balanza. But he isn’t one yet to really create or inspire fear in opposing defenses. And that creative spark is what they are missing. 

Having said all of that — you play the post and preseason to get better. They have the next five months to put it together before their NCAA title defense begins. Because as depowered as San Beda is as well, they still look good.

It is a good win for La Salle, but not enough to say yet how they will fare come the UAAP. One match does not a season make.

There are still several points for La Salle supporters to be giddy about.

Elhadji Amadou Ndiaye gives DLSU a different feel

Ndiyae stands what — 6’10”? He gives La Salle a pillar inside — not of the Ben Mbala kind, but one who will be a big part of this team provided consistency and a willingness to get better. He has a nice medium range jumper and a bit of a post-up game. His presence gives La Salle flexibility.

Let’s illustrate that by looking at how they started and used their bench.


Ndiaye at center. Tyrus Hill at the four. Joaqui Manuel at the three. Aljun Melecio and Joshua David to man the backcourt.

This is how they made their first substitution:

Kameron Valles for Manuel
Justine Baltazar for Tyrus Hill
Encho Serrano for David
Brandon Bates for Ndiaye
Jordan Bartlett for Melecio

La Salle now has some flexibility on the court. They have distributed their scoring (five player scored at least 10 points with a sixth player just a point away from double digit scoring). Ndiaye on the floor allows Baltazar to be somewhat fresh. When paired on the floor together, Baltazar can move to the four where he can open up the game as he has a decent outside shot. 

They played Derrick Pumaren’s full-court pressing defense in spurts. At the start, it helped get them a huge lead. When Letran countered with the backcourt combo of Yu and Reyson, they got the ball across.

Their tall men and their press allowed La Salle to post a massive 26-9 advantage in fast break points. 

But La Salle is rather difficult to press as they have a lot of players who can bring up the ball. At one point, they had Bartlett, Serrano, and Vales on the floor at the same time with all of them alternating in bringing up the ball.

It is just one game for both squads. It gives La Salle something to be hopeful about. As for Letran, they have to be concerned. The good thing for Bonnie Tan’s team is they have time to tinker with the lineup, teach and get better.

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