Mental toughness key in FEU win: Sauler
MANILA, Philippines – In one of the more memorable games in the first round of the UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball tournament, the De La Salle Green Archers squandered a 13-point lead in the final two minutes and wound up losing to the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws in overtime, 79-83.
It looked as though history was about to repeat itself in their second-round meeting, as the Tamaraws rallied from a double-digit deficit to make it a two-point game, 60-62, with still over six minutes remaining in the game.
But this time, the Green Archers avoided another meltdown. Head coach Juno Sauler called a timeout, and La Salle responded with a 9-2 run, led by Jeron Teng, to pull away once again and seal the win.
“I’ve been telling my players to be mentally tough, mentally prepared,” said Sauler after the game. “We know that teams make runs here in the UAAP – 8-0, 10-0 runs.”
“That’s what happened in the first half – they made a 10, 12-0 run,” he added. “But it’s just the mental toughness and the mental focus of the players that pulled this through.”
Despite the Green Archers’ show of mental fortitude, Sauler is still not satisfied with La Salle’s performance.
“I’m not really satisfied with how we played. (We committed) too many turnovers, 17. I think we had nine assists in the first half and only three in the second half,” he said. “We still have to do a better job all throughout, for 40 minutes.”
Sauler said the Green Archers have shown improvement on the defensive end, yet there are still a number of issues that they need to work on.
“Marami pa rin, like turnovers… field goal percentage, we can still improve on. We gave up too many easy points to FEU, like turnover points. We need to do a better job of getting back,” he said. “Lots of aspects in the game that we need to improve on.”