Heading into the first game of the season pitting heated rivals Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles against the De La Salle University Green Archers Saturday, both teams were first and second respectively in scoring. But when the defending champions’ offense soured, they made sure to drag La Salle down with them.
“I was pleased with our defense but I wasn’t so pleased with our offense and rebounding. I think it’s a good way to win games, to be a good defensive team,” said third-year Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin.
“It’s very hard for opponents to scout good defense, whereas you can scout and scheme good offense, so we’d like that style but there’s still areas that we have to improve on.”
The top offensive team in the league with an average of 80.6 points per game, Ateneo were limited to just 72 points against La Salle. But they made sure to work on the defensive end.
The Blue Eagles limited La Salle to season-lows in points at 55 (16.0 points lower than their average prior); in field goal percentage at 29 (9.9 percent down from their norms); points in the paint with 28 (5.2 points down); perimeter points at 11 (17.8 points below); and points off turnovers with a measly two.
Completing the dominant victory was how the Blue Eagles clogged the passing lanes or forced the Green Archers into awkward situations. La Salle, a team that average 15.2 dimes per game, were held down to just three assists – the lowest recorded assist total since July 13, 2014.
But despite being forced into a corner by the Blue Eagles, the Green Archers fought until the very end, which drew praise from Baldwin himself.
“I thought La Salle’s offensive rebounding in the first half was outstanding, if we didn’t respond to that wewould have been in trouble in the second half,” Baldwin opined.
“They also have very courageous players, they fought until the end and I think that’s credit to Louie [Gonzales] and the coaching staff, and the guys that are part of his team.”
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