It was just the first match of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup for La Salle and the University of the East (UE) that ended with a 69-62 win for the former. But after 40 minutes, it is obvious that their respective title campaigns will come down to what could be taken away from the match.
UE Red Warriors
Roi Sumang and Moustaph Arafat will be like Mike Conley and Greg Oden for Ohio State University – an incredible one-two punch to lead their team. But that one-two punch becomes only huge if the other starters and bench produce.
Sumang, the reigning pound-for-pound king of college basketball (Mark Cruz does give him a run for that title although Sumang is ahead ever so slightly) can still light up the scoreboard but UE needs to surround him with talent. A player like Sumang doesn’t come too often. He’s like Paul Lee, a human dynamo and a scoring machine if you will. But Michael Jordan for all his prodigious scoring efforts needed Scottie Pippen, Ho Grant, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc.
Moustaph Arafat is a fun player to watch. I love how he kept this poker face in going about his game. Very much like former NU Bulldog Jean Mbe. His block of Arnold Van Opstal’s two-handed stuff attempt was awesome. And to think that he came from the 15-foot line to help out on defense. And that alley-oop from Sumang for a dunk… man. I can watch that over and over again.
UE will have that quick strike capability like they did when they had Lee and Elmer Espiritu. And Arafat has a silky smooth medium range jumper just like NU’s Alfred Aroga.
But they will need strong inside play. Paging Chris Javier. This is where you have to make a stand and show what kind of player you are. And Ivan Hernandez has to get out of his Robocop mode and rebound.
And speaking of inside presence, in one moment, Derrick Pumaren inherited one of Boycie Zamar’s problems – Charles Mammie. The Sierra Leone native did not practice and as a result didn’t play. With the UAAP threatening to only allow one foreign player in the line-up, he just might not be on the team.
As for the other guys, if Bong Gallanza can play the fireman’s role the way Gene Belleza did two years ago for UE, that will help. He has to be aggressive in attacking that basket rather than relying on kickouts.
This team cannot keep throwing up three-point shots because their average hovers around 20-30% which isn’t very good. Sumang can carry the team for stretches but opposing teams will try to confound him, force him to give up that ball and put taller and athletic players in front of him. You take away that drive, he’ll just be an outside shooter. It falls to Gino Jumao-as to help out in this regard. He has to be aggressive in attacking and creating. That will make life easier for guys like Arafat, Javier, and Hernandez.
Dan Alberto as back-up point guard has to play better. But it will be tough for him as UE is thin. They’ve got so many new guys. They were tabbed for five 24-second shot clock violations but that wasn’t entirely because La Salle’s defense was great; UE just kept passing the rock around because no one wanted to take the shot. Again I know it’s the pre-season and they will learn but it is painfully obvious on what they need to achieve.
La Salle Green Archers
In a pre-game interview (and it became very apparent at the end of this game), junior forward Jeron Teng nailed it as sweet as a game-winning jumper – the green and white now have the confidence to close out games.
Harried by a late UE run, La Salle shut down their opponent with strong play. There was that ball going out of bounds but was saved by Yutien Andrada to Jeron Teng for an undergoal stab. There was that missed corner three by Almond Vosotros that fell into Arnold Van Opstal’s hands for a bucket (they practice that play, joked Vosotros). And speaking of Vosotros – there are players who, if you are an opponent, do not want to see get hot from the outside. UST’s Kevin Ferrer and UE’s Sumang are the other two. Golden hands is the term. But La Salle has two because there’s Matt Salem. I guess, UE forgot all about him too and he made them pay for their disrespect.
Vosotros, as usual, was steady in the clutch. Hence, this win.
You have to like the depth and talent of this team. They’ve got the height, defense, speed, shooting and the halfcourt and fastbreaking style down pat (not in that order mind you).
There were concerns about their playmaking but with Thomas Torres, Kib Montalbo and Terrence Mustre, they are okay. Vosotros can even run the point.
Prince Rivero. even as a rookie, showed what he can do. He isn’t afraid to drive and showed good basketball IQ. I’ve seen him play even in high school all the way to the NBTC All-Star Game and I thought to myself, second coming of Rafa Dinglasan (hey, buddy) but with better offense. That means energy, hustle and smarts.
Norbert looked lost, much like he did for stretches in last season. But never discount this guy.
Outside Rivero, the other newbie who showed some fight in him was Mustre. He committed some errors but you could see the determination on his face to do something positive. You have to appreciate that. Abu Tratter was not his usual self where he would drive hard to the basket (when playing for La Salle’s Team B). I thought he was coasting or maybe even feeling his way around. We’ve seen Julian Sargent play in last pre-season and well, there’s an upside maybe somewhere.
How do you beat this team that has the makings of a super team? You have to not match them but take it to them. You need to play as a team because La Salle is deep and can hurt you in so many ways.
Even in only the pre-season, the UAAP has been served notice that the Green Archers mean business about annexing a back-to-back crown.