David Lives Another Day – A series of adjustments

Migs Bustos on Mar 01, 2016 11:33 AM
David Lives Another Day – A series of adjustments
Juniors MVP Aljun Melecio and DLSZ live to fight another day

Coming into this series, there were a number of ways on how one will look at it. For the obvious, NU is thrice to beat. Or some would see it as a best of five with NU already with a 1-0 advantage. But after watching Game Two, I look at it now as a tennis or volleyball match.

In relation to tennis, the reason why this series is very much comparable is because you can never count out a tennis player being down two sets to love (love = 0). Considered as the sport’s GOAT (Greatest of All Time), Roger Federer has come back and done the unthinkable nine (9) times in his career. The notable comabacks were against Tommy Haas in the 2009 French Open (round of 16), 2012 French Open Quarter-final against Juan Martin Del Potro and most recently, against Gael Monfils in the 2014 US Open Quarter-final.  

In collegiate volleyball, the DLSU Lady Spikers were down two (2) sets, forced their way back in the game and beat the Ateneo Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 75. Just recently, the Adamson Lady Falcons did not have the ideal start but gained their rhythm and eventually beat the FEU Lady Tamaraws in five (5) sets in UAAP Season 78. In a much more relatable situation,the Lady Eagles got their slight revenge on the DLSU Lady Spikers last season. They won the first set and lost the two after. Ateneo then gained momentum, rallied on and won the last two sets.

I guess you see what I am trying to tell here. Will this be a comeback just like the others?

The Bullpups is still very much in this series. For a team like NU with still one more win to go, the odds are still in their favor. Much like any tennis player or volleyball team who are up two sets to one, they are still in control. Goals are still attainable, accomplishments are still within reach. After all, its just a setback, these things can be shrugged off. Bawi nalang ulit, kayang kaya pa ‘to.

But for a team like the Junior Archers, there is still no reason to celebrate. They just got one game and probably found their momentum. After this recent win, it does not change the fact that the Bullpups STILL has one more win to go.

 

David’s Slingshot?

The only team to beat the NU Bullpups this season, the DLSZ Junior Archers made one key adjustment: they played good, hard, and solid half court zone defense. A very active zone that looked somehow as a man-zone. To start the game, Zobel gave a different look in giving NU something new, the 1-3-1 zone. They were able to block out rebounders and box them out easily, while being able to run to the shooters at a shorter distance, instead of what seems like a car chase when they close out on the shooters in their zone defense in Game One.. It was a mix and match of 1-3-1 and 2-3 active zone defense that was so tight that the bigs of NU had a hard time scoring down low. Also in effect, they were able to force more turnovers and to run more on the break. La Salle had 13 fastbreak points, and living up to be #1 in the league, making 41 perimeter points. Credit that to the bail-out jumpshots by Martin Romero and timely threes down the stretch by Marco Sario and Miguel Fortuna.


Marco Sario with big threes to start the third. Big baskets that created separation.


Martin Romero honed his mid-range game throughout his Juniors career and paying off in clutch moments


Joaqui Mariano and Miguel Fortuna were also big in the second half.

 

In a long series, coaches have to make their adjustments. Having scouted one another almost all season, they have to shake things up once in a while. Why do you think coaches who play in the playoffs or finals in PBA or NBA are all geniuses? It is the power and knowledge to strategize alterations in every given situation, on how they can always “outcoach” the other. Because once a coach sees all his opponents cards, consider it done. But Coach Boris may just have this one final ace to change everything.

 

NU’s Consistent Force

Even though NU were not able to seal the deal in Game 2, they played an OK game. John Lloyd Clemente was still able to put up 25 points and 6 rebounds, Baltazar still had his usual big numbers in scoring 15 and grabbing 20 monstrous rebounds. The Bullpups still outrebounded the Junior Archers, 44-38, shot 90% from the free throw line and had more inside points (28-20).


How the Bullpups found holes and busted the zone defense (The guards, in this case Coyoca,  exploit the disadvantage when the weak side help defense fails to recover. Result, they penetrate hard to the basket and are able to hit easy baskets)


Baltazar finds ways and holes against the zone (He just stays patient, receives the ball in a timely manner and makes his move. After all, he uses his height and size to make his point-blank shots)

For the Bullpups finally seal it, they must be able to find comfort in the suffocating zone defense of the Junior Archers. In Game Two, they were swarmed by the pesky D of La Salle and it is clear that it made them uncomfortable. There were more “one and done” possessions by NU which only gave them nine (9) second chance points, averaging 15 prior to Game Two.They bled for their points. They must have been surprised that they did not make shots they normally did. Clemente and Baltazar have to impose their will more inside and fish for as many fouls as they can. After all, they have their height to their advantage. Its just a matter of mindset that they have to be composed when they make their shots down low. Also, if and when they get fouled, they have to make their free throws.

 

If we’re talking about adjustments:

De La Salle Zobel still has to make adjustments on their zone. They have to be able to close all passing lanes so that it will be hard for the guards to create when they are able to penetrate. Also, they can enhance some minor adjustments on their half court man defense just in case they will need to use it. What’s also amazing is that Zobel shot 45% from the field in Game Two, averaging only 38% throughout the season. For them to get the next game, playing the best defense is not enough. Having the best offense is as equal to playing the best defense. As miraculous as it may seem, Zobel needs all the luck they can get on the offensive end.  Besides, if NU is able to read the zone well, Zobel has to charge more ammo and have other backup plans to answer to NU’s call.

For the Bullpups, they have to convert more from the perimeter. The shooters have to step up. Making only 19 shots out of 62 is unacceptable. This team is the number one shooting team in the league, averaging 43% from the field, while scoring only 30% in Game Two. That’s a big drop.  Because Clemente and Baltazar had a hard time down low, they were many opportunites for the backcourt to take more of the shots. Thing is, they should be able to make those when the ball gets to them. Fortunately for Zobel, NU only had 14 perimeter points and shot a dismal 20% from the 3-point area, only making 4 out of their 20 attempts in Game One. If the guards become a bigger threat, this will force the defense of La Salle to challenge the shooters more and not just worry about NU’s bigs. This is not an issue of skill, but more of a mental aspect that the guards have to make their jumpshots. This should be a more balanced offense that is not Clemente-Baltazar- centric.

Overall for both teams: as I have said before, its just a matter of who wants it more.

 

For all stats and video, courtesy to:
Pong Ducanes of Imperium Technology
ABS-CBN Sports and Action
 

For other facts and data, I also extend my thanks to:
Michelle Mediana
Anton Roxas
Ceej Tantengco
Miko De La Paz

Twitter @migsbustos

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