After a slew of injuries and departures due to graduation, the De La Salle University Green Archers are slowly regaining their old form that has made them contenders for the past two UAAP seasons.
Leading the second round push for the Taft cagers are seniors Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres.
Injuries have hampered Torres’ time with the Green Archers. The worst was a fractured ankle he sustained in a rivalry game against the Ateneo Blue Eagles last season that kept him on the sidelines for more than two-thirds of their UAAP Season 77 campaign.
Signs of court-rust were visible in Torres’ performance during the Green Archers’ first seven games, as he only averaged 7.16 points per outing, a point below his career average of 8.6. In addition, he was shooting at a career-worst 24.91% from the field.
Needing a pivotal back-up to Jeron Teng, Torres heeded the call during their game against the Ateneo Blue Eagles. He scored his season-high 15 points in the pivotal game. Over their last three games, the former Greenie has averaged 13.67 points and a whopping 7.67 boards during that stretch.
“That’s how it is, hindi naman palaging mataas yung percentage mo in shooting. Meron talagang mga araw na kahit open ka, you couldn’t make your shots,” Torres remarked about his slow start to the season. According to him, he is fortunate that his teammates and the team’s coaching staff never lost their trust in him, “But the thing is everyone believes that I can make it. Yung confidence na kailangan ko para sa sarili ko to shoot those baskets, nakukuha ko na.”
In their second round encounter against the University of the East Red Warriors, Torres tallied 15 points on an efficient 45% clip from the field. He went in even better, late in the second quarter, with a personal 7-0 blitz to cap a 14-point first half outing.
As the dreaded Pumaren-press forced the Green Archers to 30 turnovers in the game, the game plan of the Archers was to run past it, Torres disclosed. “By the time we broke their press, we looked for open shots. That’s what coach [Juno Sauler] wanted, gusto niya parati hanapin yung open [player]. Pag na-beat kasi yung press, magiging 4-on-3 or 3-on-2 kaya good thing we were able to pull it off.”
“Lahat naman ng tinitira ko is open shots, wala namang pilit and yun naman sinabi ni coach, ‘as long as open ka, take it kasi crineate yun [para] sayo.'”
With their win against the Red Warriors, the Green Archers have created a separation for the third spot in the Final Four race. However, there is no rest for the weary as they face the league-leading Far Eastern University Tamaraws on Sunday, October 19. “We really have to prepare for Sunday. FEU is the number one team. Yung kumpiyansa nila sobrang taas pero bilog ang bola. We just have to really practice well and apply yung gameplan ni coach.”
SIDENOTE: Thomas Torres, who vowed to play in his fifth and last year, is looking forward to next season as he can’t wait for the return of his fellow backcourtmate, Kib Montalbo.
“We’re a young team now, but we can pull it off. A lot of players are coming and I’m excited for it. As for Kib, I see him doing therapy and he’s doing well. I can’t wait for him to get back”.
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