The Bleachers King: What ails La Salle?
If you ask me what is plaguing the La Salle Green Archers nowadays I will point to two things: one, inexperience (and offensive woes); and two, the lack of continuity.
When you go back and take a look at the history of champion teams, it’s almost always a veteran squad that was brought up together through the years. Every year they mature with experience and they improve their skill set. Likewise, the coaching staff adds new pieces to their championship puzzle.
This season, La Salle easily landed the bluest of the blue chip rookies in Jeron Teng out of Xavier. He is said to be the missing piece to their title aspirations. While Teng is putting up great numbers as he looks to be the runaway rookie of the year, the team has stumbled out of the gates and is currently 2-3 with rejuvenated NU and tough Adamson remaining in their schedules.
But easily, two of the three loses could have gone either way (a pair of two-point loses to FEU and UST). And if that were so, we wouldn’t really be analyzing La Salle’s woes.
So why did I point out to lack of Inexperience and continuity? Glad you asked.
Inexperience and offensive woes
The current squad features only two super seniors in Joshua Webb and Jovet Mendoza and they do not even get a lot of minutes.
They are led by a “junior” and a sophomore” in LA Revilla and Norbert Torres who technically aren’t what their school status says because both have been around but have missed playing years either because of injury or eligibility.
It’s a young team that had loads of potential.
Here is how they are broken down by class:
Super seniors: Jovet Mendoza and Joshua Webb
Senior: Yutien Andrada
Juniors: LA Revilla, Jarelan Tampus, Luigi dela Paz, Almond Vosotros, Jed Manguera, and Papot Paredes
Sophomores: Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal and Alfonzo Gotladera
Rookies: Mark Tallo, Thomas Torres, Jeron Teng, and Gab Reyes.
In five matches, here are the minutes played by the different players:
Player Games Played Average Minutes
Jeron Teng 5 31.8
Norbert Torres 5 29.2
LA Revilla 4 26.5
Yutien Andrada 5 25.0
Jed Manguera 5 22.2
Luigi dela Paz 4 14.2
Arnold Van Opstal 5 14.0
Mark Tallo 4 13.0
Jovet Mendoza 4 12.7
Joshua Webb 5 11.0
Almond Vosotros 4 11.0
Thomas Torres 4 6.5
Jarelan Tampus 3 5.6
Ponso Gotladera 3 4.3
Papot Paredes 3 3.6
Of those logging loads of playing time, the only players who contributed significantly to La Salle’s previous campaign were Norbert Torres, Revilla, Andrada, dela Paz, and Van Opstal. That means many of the younger players are being asked to shoulder the offense.
After Rico Maierhofer and Jayvee Casio moved on following Season 71, La Salle struggled for someone to lead the team in scoring.
Take a look at the difference.
Let’s break that down further.
Season Points per game FG% Points allowed
71 2nd 2nd 4th
72 7th 8th 4th
73 3rd 4th 4th
74 4th 5th 6th
This year, La Salle finally has a couple of players who they can count on for points – LA Revilla and Jeron Teng. Whether they can continue that remains to be seen.
Here’s a contrast of two of La Salle’s best offensive players:
Wins: 11.0 ppg; 57% FG; 2.0 rpg
Losses: 7.7ppg; 40% FG; 4.0 rpg
Wins: 8.5 ppg; FG 55% 3.0; rpg 1.5 apg
Losses: 11.5 ppg 47%FG 3.5 rpg 1.3 apg
Incredibly, La Salle’s stats are nearly the same whether they win or lose.
Statistic Wins Losses
Rebounds 48.5 49.0
Offensive Rebounds 17.5 17.6
Assists 15.5 14.3
Steals 5.5 4.0
Blocked Shots 5.0 4.3
Turnovers 17.0 16.3
So what causes the losses? It isn’t their defense. It’s their offense or lack of it. It’s also their inexperience.
In their three loses, La Salle only took three of the 12 quarters (not counting the extension periods). In the final quarter of play, they have had more turnovers.
In the final extension period against the Growling Tigers, the Green Archers had three TOs to UST’s one. Against Ateneo, seven TOs to the Blue Eagles’ three. I wasn’t able to jot down the TOs vis-à-vis FEU but you get the idea.
In 2009, it was hoped that by taking in several players from the RP Youth Team, La Salle would have brought in terrific new weapons to the squad that lost to Ateneo in the 2008 Finals. They brought in Joel Tolentino (UPIS), Tata Marata (UPIS), Jed Manguera (DLSZ), Gab Banal (Xavier), and Papot Paredes (Sacred Heart CD) from the national team.
But La Salle was not able to get best of that team – RR Garcia went to FEU, Kevin Alas went up to the senior team in Letran, ditto with Frank Golla in Ateneo, while Joseph Terso to NU. Jaypee Mendoza (Tarlac State University) went to San Beda. Jai Flores and Jon Sumido (both from Iloilo Central HS) joined the UE Red Warriors.
Nevertheless, the Green Archers also got Arvie Bringas and Yutien Andrada from many-time NCAA juniors champion San Sebastian Staglets.
That sounded like not just a great recruiting class but a future dream and champion team right there. Except that the dream never turned into a reality.
Three years later, Tolentino is now with the College of Saint Benilde, Banal is in Mapua, Bringas is in FEU, and Marata back in UP.
In 2010, they brought in Nico Elorde from DLSZ but two years later, he transferred to Ateneo. In 2011, they recruited Roldan Sara from the San Beda Red Cubs. One year later, he returned to Mendiola.
In the meantime, the changes in the coaching staff have seen Papot Paredes, Joshua Webb and Jovet Mendoza relegated to the bench.
For Webb, it has been particularly more difficult because he came out of DLSZ as a highly touted rookie who got serious minutes under Franz Pumaren. Now, he isn’t even the star of his squad and it is his final year. He has gone through three head coaches in his five years in Taft.
If Bringas were still around, he’d be in his third year in green and white. And he would have formed a terrific frontline with Andrada, Mendoza, Paredes, Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres. Much was expected from Marata and Banal. Marata was given the minutes, while Banal hardly got off the bench.
La Salle used to be the paragon of stability not just in their coaching staff but also in their program.
Will the Green Archers ever been champions again? Sure they will. They could even win it all this year – don’t laugh – in spite of their 2-3 record. Two of those losses were by two points that could have gone anywhere.
To say that the suspension hurt them is a fallacy because they won it when they returned in 2007 and that remains an incredible feat.
But as it is with change there is a learning curve. After competing for the finals in almost every year of its existence in the UAAP it sure is painful for the green and white faithful to see their team struggling.
It takes time. But for some, at 2-3, there isn’t enough time left.