Let The Games Begin!

29 06 2007

The De La Salle Green Archers seem ready and raring for the opening of the UAAP basketball season. Many teams have seen the great job coach Franz Pumaren has done to prepare the Green Archers for their return to the league. Winning all the major pre-season tournaments against different opponents is no easy task. On the way to capturing the championships of the Nike Summer League and Filoil tournaments, La Salle lost only 1 game. The down side is that all the teams in the UAAP will try so much harder whenever they play the Green Archers.

I watched many of the pre-season tournament games and I saw a very big difference between the way La Salle was coached and the way the other teams were coached. Pumaren used these tournaments for what they were supposed to be, as tune-up games. While other coaches put their best players on the floor most of the time, Pumaren dug deep into his bench to give them a chance to show what they can do. He did not hesitate to bench his starters so he could try different combinations on the floor. It could also be a ploy to confuse the scouts.

When starter Bateer Malabes went down with an injury, Pumaren put James Mangahas in the starting line-up and James proved to be worth the promotion. I was very impressed with his ability to pass, rebound and shoot. I think he should stay in the starting five.

Marko Batricevic also played very well and will definitely contribute to the team. In only his first year, Marko is definitely a good player coming off the bench. With Atkins, Cua, Ilad, Malabes and maybe even Ferdinand also coming off the pine, La Salle’s bench will be awesome.
Of course, who can’t overlook the tremendous development of Rico Maierhoffer.

Winning MVP and mythical 5 honors in the pre-season tournaments became a regular event for Maierhoffer. Pumaren calls him the most athletic player on the team. Aside from his vaunted inside game, Maierhofer has now developed an outside presence, hitting three-pointers when open.

TY Tang and JV Casio have also matured and will definitely contribute to this La Salle team. Though lacking in size, these 2 guards more than make up for it with intensity and smarts. They can hit the treys as well as crack the defense with their slashing games. The veteran that has greatly improved is Pocholo Villanueva. He is a workhorse who can be counted on at crunch time.

The biggest difference between this year’s team from previous ones is that the present team does not have just one go-to-guy like they had in Ritualo, Cortez, Cardona or the overrated Joseph Yeo. This team can beat you with different players and combinations. They have a very solid inside game with Maierhofer’s presence. They can also open up the defense when Casio, Tang and even Maierhofer start hitting the threes. They can play an up-tempo game due to their very deep bench as well as a solid half court game led by the experienced TY Tang.

I read a lame-brain comment that La Salle is strong only because it had a year to practice. Apparently the person who made that comment does not realize that it was extremely difficult to keep the team cohesive and focused during the suspension. While the other teams were playing in the UAAP, La Salle was not. If the team decided to use the year off to good use, then they should be commended. But of course there will be those who will use that as an excuse. Many wanted La Salle suspended so their teams would have a better chance at the championship. Yet now these same people are going to find every reason to say that La Salle had an unfair advantage.

There may be up to 7 teams vying for the Final Four. These are La Salle, FEU, UE, UST, NU, UP and Ateneo. UST will have to go through the wringer to win back to back championships. Their line-up is almost intact, but their absence in the pre-season tournaments gives very little insight on the team. There is also the curse of the host, wherein only one host team in the history of UAAP has ever won a basketball championship. La Salle achieved this but had to give back the championship trophy last year.

Both FEU and UE looked very good in the pre-season games. UE has some very outstanding players but can’t seem to win the big games. They lost in both their semifinal matches and that certainly was frustrating for Coach Dindo Pumaren. FEU on the other hand, made a statement by playing in the finals of the Nike Summer league. They are a good, young and talented team.

UP may feel the loss of Marvin Cruz, but still has a good nucleus of the team that did very well last year. Ateneo on the other hand is said to have a good point guard in Kirk Long. They trained in the United States, but not much has been seen of them. The team to watch that may play spoiler, is National University. They made a very decent showing in the pre-season, even without their mainstays, who were playing in the PBL.

My finals pick is La Salle vs FEU. Now let’s hear your comments for Philippine College Basketball.

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11 responses

19 06 2007
KKK

LA SALLE IS BEING OVER RATED. THEY ARE A BEATABLE TEAM AND I DONT THINK THEY CAN REACH THE FINALS. CASIO AND TANG WILL BE THEIR FIRST OPTION IN OFFENSE AND I DONT THINK MAIERHOFER HAS IMPROVE.

20 06 2007
kimho

finals pick. ust lasalle

23 06 2007
The Writer

KKK,
Maierhofer hasn’t improved???? Are you watching the same game every sports analyst has been watching. Take off your blinders.

28 06 2007
Jayvee

We’ll see. Any team is always beatable, they just prepare it right for them to avoid getting beaten.

29 06 2007
lordjubart

lasalle-feu rematch in the finals..
the other didn’t make it to play last season and the other didnt make it to final four. both hungry..both on fire..

29 06 2007
Jayvee

FEU’s a contender but they are a young team over there. But they have fair chances.

30 06 2007
College Hoop Fan

The ball’s round. 🙂

In college hoops, anything can happen.

1 07 2007
anonymous

KKK insecure ka lang siguro squatter ka..haha .inggitero

3 07 2007
The Green Mind

Thanks for reading The Green Mind. FEU will surprise many this year. But NU will either make the Final Four or make some teams work harder at getting to the playoffs.

3 07 2007
bwahaha

All i see is a repeat championship of UST..
People underestimate the tigers…
But they’ll be in for A BIG SURPRISE..

3 07 2007
kkk

sorry who ever you are but the way you react shows na ikaw ang squatter. bke hindi mo pa naririnig ung term na opinion. i can say what ever i want. para sa impormasyon mo, may pera ako at madami. if you want i can give you my name and you search my company in the net for your satisfaction. you should’t be reacting like that because everyone can say whatever they want. have respect bro..

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