With a record of 12-0, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers have a rare chance to sweep the eliminations by beating the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles tomorrow on November 5 and the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws the week after that on November 12.
First round review
Despite the absence of head coach Aldin Ayo in his first La Salle-Ateneo match due to his suspension from a stunt he pulled off to a referee, the Archers won convincingly against their rival with a score of 97-81 on October 2, 2016.
It was not only Ayo that was out of the game against Ateneo in the first round of eliminations, DLSU team captain, Jeron Teng was also out due to injury that’s been plaguing him since the offseason. The man in-charge of coaching DLSU for Ayo was assistant coach Louie Gonzales and prized recruit Ben Mbala stole the show with his dunks part of his 28 point, 13 rebounds, five steals and a block.
The FEU Tamaraws was the opening assignment of the Taft Avenue-based team. In that victory on opening day, the Archers made a comeback victory over the Morayta-based team with a score 83-78, and as expected, Jeron Teng led the Archers with 28 points, 6 rebounds and a steal and two crucial free throws with 2:14 remaining in the game to keep FEU away from winning.
The facts and odds
With a lot of momentum on DLSU after beating the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors; 95-66, the long break brought by Halloween and All Saints day won’t seem to slow them down.
Ateneo and FEU who are vying for a final four postseason, are two teams preventing La Salle from a regular season sweep as well as a step-ladder postseason. Ateneo who is currently at third place in the UAAP standings has momentum on their side after winning against the National University (NU) Bulldogs on October 23, 2016. While FEU is at second place in the standings also has momentum after escaping a shocker from the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 63-60 on October 22, 2016.
After Ateneo’s victory over the NU Bulldogs, the Blue Eagles are truly expected to beat the Archers. If not expected, they are pressured to do so by the whole league not only from the pressure of their alumni and students because of die hard Ateneo supporters who want to see their team replicate an upset over their rivals since 2002, wherein a La Salle team that was coached by Franz Pumaren (current coaching Adamson) with players in his lineup like Mike Cortez, Joseph Yeo and Mark Cardona were on the verge of becoming the first team to sweep the eliminations since the implementation of the Final Four format in 1994. Then a Joel Banal-mentored Ateneo lineup forced a final four postseason with players like LA Tenorio, Larry Fonacier, and Enrico Villanueva. A season that Ateneo eventually won by beating the UE Red Warriors twice in the semis with James Yap as one of its star players for UE, then defeated La Salle in the finals.
We’ll never know how La Salle is preparing against Ateneo for Saturday but La Salle will have to triple their preparations for tomorrow and their game against FEU the following week, for them to have a step-ladder postseason.
A step-ladder has not happened since 2007 after the UE Red Warriors coached then by Dindo Pumaren swept the eliminations but eventually lost to La Salle in the finals that was coached by no other than Franz Pumaren and the whole of DLSU sporting teams coming back from a one year suspension.
The chances of DLSU sweeping will depend on the mayhem brought by Aldin Ayo’s system. If they get to limit Ateneo in all ends by halftime, it will be over for Ateneo. As for their game with FEU, it will be a grudge for the Tamaraws to force a final four.