Archers target finals
The Green Archers will throw the full weight of that sophisticated weaponry as they attempt to knock out the Adamson Falcons in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball at Mall of Asia Arena today.
“We have 74 different plays and I’m talking about offense only,” said La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo. “We have a play for every situation on the floor and it would require a lot of focus from my players.”
They’ll certainly need those against an Adamson five that thrives on a nothing-to-lose mentality.
“Nobody expected us to be here,” said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren, the former La Salle coach who lost twice to his alma mater this season. “With this opportunity, might as well make the most out of it.”
But while their first meeting was a complete blowout, the fourth-ranked Falcons nearly had the No. 1 Archers by the neck in the second encounter.
And though the Archers are armed with a twice-to-beat edge and can book the first championship spot in a potential showdown with archrival Ateneo in the Finals, the Falcons definitely have the manpower to cancel them out.
Ben Mbala, a cinch for the season Most Valuable Player award, has a tough customer in fellow Cameroonian Papi Sarr on the low blocks while the speedy La Salle backcourt of Kib Montalbo, Aljun Melecio, Thomas Torres and Andrei Caracut has met its match with the Falcons’ small ball.
“We had beaten them twice but I tell you they’re really competitive,” said Ayo. “We respect them and we will prepare hard for this game to advance to the championship.”
The Archers are on a collision course with archrivals Ateneo Blue Eagles, who also gained a twice-to-beat bonus in their Final Four duel with No. 3 Far Eastern U Tamaraws this Saturday.
Jerrick Ahanmisi, the projected Rookie of the Year, and Sean Manganti can neutralize La Salle’s patented mayhem basketball with their athleticism along with spitfire Robbie Manalang and veteran Dawn Ochea.
Perhaps the best guy on the floor that could create problems for the Falcons is Jeron Teng, who always answers the call whenever the Archers are in trouble.
“This is just part of our journey. We were able to embrace and accept what were supposed to do that’s why we’re here,” said Pumaren. “I just hope we will continue with this journey.”