If you could use one word to define the DLSU Green Archers, potential would be the most apt as of late.
Talent has never eluded the Green Archers given their recruiting abilities, resources, and perhaps even La Salle’s reputation as a prestigious university. If recruiting was all it took to win the UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship, then DLSU would by and large be a dynasty. Yet games and titles are won on the court.
For all their efforts, the Green Archers have won two UAAP Men’s Basketball championships in the last 10 years. It’s a feat other UAAP member schools would be fine with, but given La Salle’s winning tradition and the fact that archrival ADMU Blue Eagles have won four titles within that same span, it’s not enough.
A six-year title drought has certainly not been lost on the Lasallian community, and the apprehensions may remain given the mixed bag UAAP Season 85 has been.
DLSU has had their moments in Season 85, as they’ve come back from double-digit deficits to snatch wins and obliterated opponents on the way to victories. Unfortunately, these were offset by losses marked by blown leads and unnecessary errors. The Green Archers’ tendency has been to go off to the races, and while it does have its merits, more disciplined teams have taken on a marathon-like approach that has helped them wear down La Salle in the end.
After an uneven first round and consecutive losses to the FEU Tamaraws and the ADMU Blue Eagles to begin the second round, though, things have been looking up for DLSU once they resumed play following the 11-day break to give way to the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The Green Archers got their vengeance against the Adamson Soaring Falcons after a back-and-forth affair ended with a game-winning 3-pointer from CJ Austria. Neither team created much separation from the other, but La Salle was more often than not playing from behind. It was the perfect test to see what DLSU was made of in the face of adversity and given how they closed the game, the Green Archers were more than capable of stepping up to the challenge.
La Salle then used the momentum from that contest when the faced the league-leading UP Fighting Maroons. Down by 12 points at one point, DLSU did not quit and continued to find ways to hang around and pounce on the defending champions at the right moment. With the win, the Final Four picture also became a much more interesting one for the other teams ahead of them.
Both victories have obviously given the Green Archers confidence and more breathing room, but more importantly, it has shown them and the rest of the UAAP what consistency can do to a stacked roster. Talent has obviously carried La Salle in certain stretches, but games are more often than not won with smarts rather than just putting points on the board.
What has also helped DLSU has been their willingness to pass to one another and their ability to defend. Both have helped them push the pace and punish their opponents for careless mistakes. Disciplined teams, however, have taken advantage of the Green Archers’ eagerness on both ends of the floor, drawing fouls off them and forcing La Salle into unnecessary errors. When DLSU minimizes these miscues, they can hang with the best out there.
The Green Archers have weathered through much of Season 85 without MVP front-runner Schonny Winston, who has missed four games thus far due to a nagging calf injury and the expectations are that Winston will return either against the NU Bulldogs or the UE Red Warriors. The margin of error for La Salle remains razor-thin, and they need all the help they can get to advance to the Final Four.
Two statement wins from the DLSU Green Archers have brought them back from the brink of an early offseason into the Final Four conversation once more with three games left to play in the preliminary round of UAAP Season 85. There’s obviously a lot of work to be done from here on out, but hope springs eternal for those who keep fighting for glory until the end.