What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The De La Salle University Green Archers are in a funk. Not just any funk; the Green-and-White squad have only won a single game in the second round of the UAAP 78th Season Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Once riding high in the top four of the standings, the Green Archers now cling to scraps of hope as the defending champions, the National University Bulldogs, have crept ahead of them in the standings.
Early Sunday evening, the Archers lost to fierce rivals Ateneo de Manila University. It might serve as the wake-up call the team needs, since the road for Juno Sauler and the Green Archers has only gotten rougher. They are currently fifth place with a 5-7 slate – half a game behind the fourth-seeded NU Bulldogs (6-7).
It was also La Salle’s third straight loss in the second round; they must now win all their remaining games, against the UP Fighting Maroons and top-seeded Far Eastern University Tamaraws, to stay alive in the playoff race.
“It’s not the losing streak [that I keep in mind] but it’s really looking forward to our last two games in [the] elimination [round],” La Salle head coach Juno Sauler shared, when asked about his thoughts after their game against Ateneo. “[We] just have to take care of business [in the] last two games.”
With a tall task ahead, Sauler noted the team must come up with better shooting performances and key defensive stops. In their last three games, La Salle have shot 36 percent from the field and have allowed opposing teams to score an average of 76.3 points.
“We need to shoot better and defend better [in our upcoming games],” Sauler added.
Furthermore, La Salle are missing the services of ace lockdown defender Julian Sargent, who injured his hamstring during their game against Adamson. Sargent has provided the necessary guidance in a team that has nine rookies on board. In his absence, rookie guards Lorenzo Navarro and Andrew Langston have seen extended minutes on the floor.
“We don’t know when Julian will be back. He’s our main defender also with [Joshua] Torralba. His experience would help since we’re coming this season with nine rookies,” Sauler commented. “Julian, although he is a sophomore, he plays like a veteran. So, whether it be his leadership or what he can contribute on the floor, it’s a big factor that he can’t get to play.”
With the team’s Final Four drive still in the their hands, all that Sauler wants from his team is for them not to back down from the tough challenges that lie ahead.
“The boys are out there fighting and no one’s giving up so we’re looking forward to the challenges in the next two games,” Sauler confidently closed.
Come Wednesday, expect the team to play like there is no tomorrow.
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