MANILA, Philippines – La Salle almost suffered a blowout opening-game loss against archrival Ateneo, but the Green Archers’ second-half comeback gave active consultant Jermaine Byrd a glimmer of hope in their UAAP Season 82 campaign.
“If we would have the whole game the way we played the 3rd and the 4th quarter, I like our chances,” said Byrd as La Salle managed to cut a 22-point deficit to a single digit, before dropping the game by 12 points.
“The best thing about it is that we play again in two days so we can forget about this one and get ready for the next one.”
The Green Archers – who missed the Final Four last season – had hoped to surprise the defending champions with a retooled lineup bannered by one-and-done players Jamie Malonzo, Keyshawn Meeker and James Pado.
But even with La Salle fielding Fil-foreign reinforcements, the Blue Eagles exposed the Green Archers’ weakness and pulled away with a massive 17-0 run to close out the first half for a whopping 51-29 advantage at the break.
Byrd admitted their mistakes, noting the Green Archers will soon adjust to the physicality and intensity of the UAAP competition.
“The 2nd quarter hurt us. We just put them on the foul line. I’m not gonna complain about the refereeing. The refereeing was amazing,” added Byrd.
“It is new for the new guys, I mean the atmosphere, the intensity but they’ve played in (NCAA) Division 1 and Division II basketball so we’ll figure it out as a team and we’ll get better on Wednesday.”
The former Qatar national coach also heaped praise on Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin for instilling team discipline and looks forward to facing him again in the second round.
“He’s by far the best coach I’ve went up against head-to-head. I spent some time in the NBA, spent some time in the G-League. He’s a very, very amazing coach,” said Byrd. “He doesn’t get rattled. His team is well prepared. His team is well disciplined. You can tell they’re the defending champions.”
La Salle looks to move on quickly and bounce back against the National University (NU) Bulldogs on Wednesday, September 11, 12:30 pm at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
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