Deep and dangerous: DLSU’s strength in perspective
MANILA, Philippines - Two weeks removed from their controversial brawl in a Davao City preseason game, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws and the defending champion De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers already found themselves as each other’s very first Season 80 opponents.
Playing without their super ace “Big” Ben Mbala, La Salle was at a disadvantage against FEU’s own big Prince Orizu.
At least, that’s what they would like everyone to assume.
As soon as the introductions were done and the boos for Ron Dennison for his sucker punch in Davao had subsided, La Salle shot out like a cannon. In any sport, a potent offense coupled with stingy defense is a ticket to victory. The Archers held down home base with starting center Abu Tratter and limited FEU’s offense with a 29-11 first quarter. At the half, it was still 47-32 for DLSU. FEU did some runs here and there but it didn’t stop the Archers from leading by as many as 23 off the hot shooting of Aljun Melecio, who already had 20 points before intermission.
It was looking like a runaway DLSU victory at the second half until FEU decided to wake up and launch a furious 36-point fourth quarter. Too little, too late though, as the defending champs start Season 80 undefeated, 95-90. Melecio ended up with 29 points along with 16 from Andrei Caracut, 12 from Kib Montalbo and an 11-10 double-double from Tratter.
From the looks of things, it’s like they don’t even need Mbala to repeat as champs.
Unfortunately for the rest of the league, he’s still here and he’s coming back after FIBA Afrobasket 2017, where he is currently tearing up the competition even when playing against professional ballers.
So, with your roster already all set even without your best player, what do you do with him now?
“Si Ben, we always tell him to do new things,” said Coach Aldin Ayo. “So we might convert him to the 3 spot (small forward) when he comes back,” he added matter-of-factly. “He can play 2 (shooting guard), 3, 4 (power forward), 5 (center) for us now.”
Soft whistling could be heard from the media members, and for good reason. A 6-foot-7 shooting guard in a league of 6-foot-1 power forwards? That’s like the luxury being enjoyed now by the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, where their 6-foot-11 freak athlete Giannis Antetokoumpo currently plays point guard. Or the other 4 positions, when he's feeling adventurous.
But that’s La Salle for you, and always has been. You can sometimes have the luck to beat them or even at times match up well with them, but you’ll never catch them straddling the middle or bottom rungs of the standings – at least not in basketball.
They’re getting creative now. Before, La Salle just stuck to the status quo where tall players play tall positions and it worked. Not this time. Maybe winning all the time is getting boring.
As stated in the Season 80 preview, they are the reigning, defending and undisputed champions. It looks like they want to keep it that way, thank you very much. – Rappler.com