When it comes to shooting guards in the UAAP, one of the first names that comes to mind is that of Almond Vosotros. After all, the guy did hit the game-winning CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING pull-up jumper in the Finals last season. However, Season 77 has been somewhat of a disappointment for the lead guard out of De Lasalle University.
Almond’s role on the team is undeniable. As one of the team’s only credible 3-point shooters, Almond’s outside shooting has and is crucial for DLSU’s post oriented offense. With teams doubling guys like AVO, Perkins, and Norbert Torres on the regular, and a certain fella named Jeron Teng drawing his fair share of attention as well, Almond has seen a ton of good – if not great – looks this season.
The problem? He hasn’t really been knocking them down. To date, Vosotros has shot just 33.8% from the field, including 30.2% from three-point distance. The latter figure actually places him behind Julian Sargent (39.4% 3FG%) in terms of outside efficiency. Almond actually has never been a great 3-point shooter (29.4% during his 4-year stay at Taft Avenue), but prior to this season, his field goal shooting never dipped below 37.0%.
It looks even worse when you take a look at the advanced statistics, as his true shooting field goal percentage (which takes into account FG%, 3FG%, and FT%), has dropped 4% from last season (46.9% to 42.0%), and a full 10% from two seasons ago (52.2% to 42.0%).
A major part of the reason in the drop in Almond’s shooting, I believe, can be traced to the injury of backcourt partner Thomas Torres. In years past, he could get by as the team’s shooting guard, camping along the 3-point line and making leakouts for easy fast break layups. However, with Torres getting injured early in Round 1, a lot of the playmaking duties have fallen upon Vosotros and Teng, especially when Kib Montalbo has to take a breather. For one, this means that Vosotros can’t simply shoot whenever he likes – he has to set his teammates up. Secondly, playing the point also makes you expend energy bringing the ball up the floor against heavy pressure. This takes its toll on your body, eventually wearing you down and giving you less energy to shoot the actual basketball.
Moreover, the types of shots that Almond has been taking has been reflective in his field goal shooting. Almond is much better shooting in catch and shoot situations than he is when he has to take the pull-up jumper. When Almond has to take a jumper (pull-up jump shot / runner / stepbacks), he’s only shot 17/77 (22.1%). When’s he actually had a chance to set his feet and shoot a spot-up shot? Vosotros has connected at a rate of 35.3%, a pretty solid clip.
The good news for DLSU fans is that it seems that Almond is starting to heat up. In his last 4 games, Almond has hit a total of 13 three pointers, good for 40.6% during that stretch. A big part of this could be Coach Juno’s Sauler decision to go to his vaunted 3-bigs lineup (AVO, Perkins, Torres all in at the same time), leaving the outside even more open as his man needs to help inside to help with the boards.
For the record, Almond hasn’t shot this well since the first two games of the season, when he went a combined 7/17 (41.1%) from long-range.
With DLSU facing a do-or-die game on Wednesday against FEU, I can’t help but ask, does the fate of La Salle’s title defense lie in Almond’s hands?