04-23-2018, 09:22 AM
Lasalle looks like it won't miss Ricci Rivero and Benoit Mbala all that much as it aims to regain the UAAP title, from the Philippine Star online...

Archers shoot down Maroons

MANILA, Philippines - La Salle showed great promise even on the exit of a number of key players, topping a highly fancied University of the Philippines, 82-79, in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.

Old hands Kib Montalbo, Andrei Caracut, Aljun Melecio and Justine Baltazar played well with new recruits Brandon Bates and Taane Samuels as the Archers got past the vastly improved UP side.

Baltazar top scored for the winning team with 16 points, with Samuel and Caracut contributing 12 and 11, respectively.

“The win was a bonus as we’re a work in progress,” said first-year DLSU coach Louie Gonzales.

“We have to find the 51 points that we lost,” added Gonzales, referring to the outputs of former Archers Ben Mbala, Ricci and Prince Rivero and Abu Tratter.

Ateneo spoiled the party of the debuting Gilas Pilipinas cadets with a 75-69 victory in the second game.

Thirdy Ravena turned in a team-high 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the reigning UAAP champions.

The scores

First Game

DLSU 82 – Baltazar 16, Samuel 12, Caracut 11, Santillan 9, Montalbo 9, Bates 9, Melecio 8, Corteza 4, Go 3, Dyke 1, Capacio 0.

UP 79 – Juan Gomez De Liano 21, Dario 16, Akhuetie 12, Desiderio 9, Vito 8, Javi Gomez De Liano 7, Jaboneta 3, Manzo 2, Murrell 1, Prado 0, Tungcab 0, Gozum 0, Lim 0.

Quarterscores: 20-15, 36-36, 58-52, 82-79

Second Game

Ateneo 75 – Ravena 16, Wong 13, Nieto Mi 10, Nieto Ma 9, Go 7, Kouame 5, White 5, Belangel 4, Maagdenberg 3, Asistio 2, Navarro 1, Mamuyac 0, Credo 0

Gilas cadets 69 – Rivero R 17, Paras 13, Gomez de LIano 11, Tratter 8, Ambohot 5, Gozum 4, Tolentino A 3, Tuffin 3, Tolentino V 3, Rivero P 2, Desiderio 0, Mocon 0

Quarterscores: 17-16, 29-27, 53-48, 75-69

04-23-2018, 09:32 AM
La Salle holds off UP in Filoil opener

By: Mark Giongco‎ - @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net / 07:06 PM April 21, 2018

De La Salle University drew impressive outings from its new recruits to hold off University of the Philippines, 82-79, at the start of the 2018 Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Kiwi import Kira Samuel and Fil-Aussie Brandon Bates impressed in their preseason debuts, combining for 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Green Archers.

The 6-foot-8 Samuel had a near double-double with 12 points and seven rebounds while Bates added nine points, three rebounds and one block.

“Actually, I’m not putting a lot of pressure on the two, but they delivered,” said DLSU coach Louie Gonzalez.

Key returnee Justine Baltazar topscored for La Salle with 16 points that went with six rebounds, three assists and two blocks while Andrei Caracut chipped in 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the three-point area.

“The win is just a bonus for us because the team is still really a work in progress,” said Gonzalez.

The Archers blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter but the Maroons made one last push to pull within one, 80-79, after a Diego Dario 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left.

Samuel hit two free throws to give La Salle a three-point cushion before Paul Desiderio took a half-court heave as time ran out.

Juan Gomez de Liano led all scorers with 21 points built on five triples on top of six assists while Dario had 16 points. Nigerian import Bright Akhuetie, the transferee from University of Perpetual Help, finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

04-25-2018, 09:02 AM
Twin towers? How about triple towers for La Salle?

By Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 21, 2018 08:11 PM

With the departure of Ben Mbala, De La Salle University was left in the hands of fiery guards Andrei Caracut, Aljun Melecio, and Kib Montalbo.

In the opening of the 2018 Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup, however, it wasn’t that high-octane backcourt which was doing the steering.

Rather, it was the fearsome foursome of 6-foot-8 Taane Samuel, 6-foot-8 Brandon Bates, 6-foot-7 Justine Baltazar, and 6-foot-5 Santi Santillan who took center stage as the Green Archers dropped loaded University of the Philippines, 82-79, on Saturday.

Pride of Pampanga Baltazar top-scored with 16 points on top of six rebounds, three assists, and two blocks; Kiwi reinforcement Samuel posted 12 points and seven rebounds; Filipino-Australian Bates had nine points; and Cebuano stud Santillan had nine points and six rebounds.

Every time La Salle took charge in the contest, three of their four bigs were on the floor – overturning their expected strength of small ball and going big, very big, instead.

And in the end, the Taft towers also connived to go at Fighting Maroon powerhouse Bright Akhuetie who was frustrated into 12 points, 15 rebounds, and seven turnovers.

First-year head coach Louie Gonzalez was nothing but satisfied with their two-way effort. “They all delivered. Siyempre, si Samuel and si Brandon, they’ve been away from home so andami pa nilang adjustment, pero good thing, nag-deliver pa rin sila,” he shared.

A step forward was already expected from Baltazar who is now being tasked to fill the void left behind by back-to-back MVP Ben Mbala while Santillan has always been solid.

And so, it was Samuel and Bates who truly opened eyes in their first big game. “The one big adjustment for these two is the height of their opponents. They’re so used to playing with players their height so now, they have to adjust,” their mentor said.

Indeed, while he impressed, Bates said he can do much more – especially on the glass. “I just went out there and did my thing, but I’m still a bit disappointed, not getting as many rebounds,” he said, after only hauling in three rebounds.

The good news is that in Samuel’s eyes, they are already on their way into being well-adjusted. “As soon as we started training, coach said we needed to be ready for the physicality. Being in a new environment in the Philippines, coach told us we’re gonna get banged up,” he said.

He then continued, “We just need to roll with it and keep our heads on straight.”

04-25-2018, 09:09 AM
^ Nagmukha nga namang maliit si Bright Akhuetie nung nakatapat niya itong dalawang rookie big men ng Lasalle. Had it just been Leonard Santillan and Justin (I am not putting an "e" at the end of that, no matter what his birth certificate says...) Baltazar, baka kinaya pa ni Bright. But having the additional two guys there, both of whom are clearly bigger than Bright, at pareho pang may laro, instant contender na naman ang Lasalle.

It is one thing to merely have a bunch of tall stiffs like say Tsady Rangel, Meds Salim and Matt Aquino over at NU. It is an entirely different proposition pag malaki na nga, may laro pa.

For those thinking Samuel is overweight and easily winded, please check out his YouTube videos and see him when he was leaner. The entire UAAP is now on notice, pano pa kung bumalik na sa kondisyon 'yan, tapos may katabi pang Bates.

Basketball is always easier when you have quality size, just ask Norman Black when he got the 5-Peat.

09-25-2018, 08:04 AM
La Salle big man Samuel likely out for two months

The Green Archers may just have to do without injured Kiwi player Taane Samuel for the rest of the UAAP eliminations

Naveen Ganglani

Published 1:26 PM, September 13, 2018

Updated 1:26 PM, September 13, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – More bad news for the De La Salle Green Archers.

After losing its UAAP Season 81 opener against the FEU Tamaraws this past weekend, DLSU will have to play probably the remainder of the men’s basketball elimination round without its Kiwi big man Taane Samuel.

The 6-foot-8 Samuel, who was brought in to replace reigning UAAP MVP Ben Mbala, injured his left foot in the first half against FEU and was unable to return to the game. He finished with only two points and two rebounds in his anticipated debut. (READ: La Salle's Taane Samuel suffers foot injury in first UAAP game)

According to a source who requested for anonymity, Samuel has a stress fracture that will keep him out of action up to two months after an operation and rehabilitation.

DLSU head coach Louie Gonzales gave an idea this would be the case after the Green Archers’ loss to the Tamaraws.

“Samuel, natuluyan… Kasi may stress fracture eh (Looks like Samuel is out due to stress fracture),” he said.

Rappler reached out to Gonzales a day after DLSU’s season debut for an update on Samuel’s condition, to which he responded: “We are still waiting for the result and recommendation of doctors. We will announce before the game on Saturday.”

The source told Rappler that Samuel actually started experiencing discomfort on his left foot a few weeks after La Salle returned from an offseason tournament in South Korea.

There were even rumors days prior to La Salle’s debut that Samuel would miss the contest and some more time due to the pain on his foot, which were debunked when he suited up for the Green Archers.

But by the current looks of things, it seems like the New Zealander aggravated his past injury.

A double-double machine for DLSU in the preseason, La Salle will obviously miss Samuel’s contribution but still has enough big man depth to make up for his absence with the likes of Santi Santillan, Justine Baltazar, Brandon Bates, and Mark Dyke.

However, the Green Archers lined up only 13 players on their roster for Season 81, which means another major injury or two to the other players would put the team in a dire situation.

If Samuel misses up to two months, that will put his return sometime during the end of the elimination round or the start of the Final Four, depending on the league’s schedule. – Rappler.com

09-25-2018, 08:06 AM
Kib Montalbo fractures thumb, out 4 to 6 weeks

After losing Taane Samuel due to a Jones fracture, the La Salle Green Archers will now have to play most of the elimination round without its team captain

Naveen Ganglani

Published 7:59 PM, September 24, 2018

Updated 7:59 PM, September 24, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Injury woes continue to pile up for the De La Salle Green Archers.

After losing big man Taane Samuel for up to two months due to a Jones fracture, La Salle will now have to play most of the elimination round without team captain Kib Montalbo.

A source confirmed to Rappler that Montalbo, who's playing in his final season of eligibility, will miss 4 to 6 weeks after fracturing his left thumb in La Salle's win over UE on Sunday, September 23.

The injury occurred with 6 minutes remaining in the first quarter. After Green Archers big man Justine Baltazar missed second of his free throw attempts, Montalbo hurt his thumb as he tried to retrieve the loose ball.

Montalbo managed to continue playing throughout the game, finishing with two points in 15 minutes as La Salle defeated UE to go up 2-1 in the UAAP Season 81 standings.

After the game against UE, Montalbo sent a tweet that, as it now turns out, was quite likely related to his injury.

Not now please
— Kib Montalbo (@kibmontalbo) September 23, 2018

The source confirmed the severity of Montalbo's injured thumb on Monday, also noting that the Bacolod native won't require surgery and can return towards the tailend of the elimination round after naturally remedying his injury.

Nevertheless, this puts Coach Louie Gonzales and the rest of the Green Archers in a dire situation. La Salle lined-up only 13 players this season, which means it will now only have 11 healthy players moving forward for at least the foreseeable future.

Losing Montalbo also hurts La Salle's overall experience and leadership. Although not an explosive scorer, Montalbo's defense, energy, and steadiness are of great importance to the Green Archers' gameplan.

Montalbo was also La Salle's leading assist man with an average of a little over 5 dimes a game.

With Montalbo shelved, that will mean more responsibility for Aljun Melecio, Andrei Caracut, Jolo Go, and rookie Encho Serrano. – Rappler.com

09-25-2018, 08:12 AM
^ Lasalle is now down to 11 men and it looks like the spotlight - more than ever - is now on big man Justin Baltazar, the talented 6-8 center out of NU high school.

Coach Louie Gonzales may have to skip his "egalitarian" approach to the game and force feed Baltazar, as well as 6-5 power forward Leonard Santillan.

He can also count on Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut to help open things up inside with their outside shooting, ditto Jollo Go, who has proven productive off the Lasalle bench.

Brandon Bates, the other expat on the roster, needs to step up whenever Baltazar and/or Santillan needs a blow, or get into foul trouble.

Taane and Montalbo are key pieces for the Green Archers, but the Louie G's remaining guys can more than hold the fort, and certainly are still a lock for a Final 4 berth.

Speaking of stepping up...

09-25-2018, 08:13 AM
Serrano repays coach’s trust with breakout game for La Salle

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2018 11:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Given the opportunity to play meaningful minutes for De La Salle University, Encho Serrano made sure to seize the moment.

Once hailed as the top high school player in the country while playing for Adamson University, Serrano needed to take a long road to La Salle after he was found ineligible. The explosive swingman struggled to make an impact in their first two games, averaging just 2.0 points per contest.

Against University of the East on Sunday, however, Serrano showed why he was such a highly sought-after recruit. He put up 11 points and four rebounds in just 13 minutes, knocking down two triples while also displaying his athleticism with a tremendous tip-in in the fourth quarter.

“Hindi ko lang binigo si coach,” said Serrano, who formally committed to La Salle in July 2018 after a roller-coaster high school career.

“Noong sinabi niya sa akin na umpisahan mo sa depensa, kailangan ko mag-go hard sa defense ko. Kunin ko sa depensa, hanggang sa ma-open ako at makakuha ako ng kumpiyansa,” he added.

La Salle coach Louie Gonzalez had taken the opportunity to give more time to his younger players, such as Serrano and Mark Dyke, in the hopes that they will gain the confidence they need heading into a tough stretch for the team.

“Next week, we’ll have a one-week break. But after that, it’s three games in seven days,” said Gonzalez. “Medyo mabigat ‘yung schedule, so sabi ko na eto na lang ‘yung chance ko para magkaroon ng kumpiyansa ‘yung players ko.”

“I really took that,” he added.

Serrano, who poured in eight points in the final period, was happy to have achieved his coach’s goal -- and to register his breakout game as a player in the seniors division following his tumultuous high school career.

“‘Di ko sinayang ‘yung sinabi ni coach na bibigyan niya ko ng opportunity para kumuha ng kumpiyansa. Binigay ko lahat sa depensa ko hanggang sumunod ‘yung opensa ko,” he said.

09-25-2018, 08:20 AM
^ Encho Serrano, the star crossed high school star will now get more opportunities to show what all the fuss was about.

He will, however, have to figure out one fundamental thing: can he be a full time guard in the senior division?

Serrano grew up with the ball always in his hands, and wound up becoming something close to the high flying Paul Alvarez, the PBA's old "Mr Excitement".

Alvarez always sold tickets with his acrobatic game and strong motor, something Serrano has also shown.

Unfortunately those types of players tend to get lost when they play in a more structured system, as Louie G prefers.

It looks like the coach is ready to cut Serrano some slack though, especially with his manpower deficit at present.

If Serrano can incorporate his strengths seamlessly into the Lasalle scheme of things, Montalbo will not be such a big loss after all.

12-07-2018, 02:13 PM
UAAP: FEU edges La Salle in cardiac finish, earns final-4 spot

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2018 06:06 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2018 06:48 PM

Arvin Tolentino clutch, as Tamaraws arrange semis duel with Blue Eagles

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATED) Arvin Tolentino drilled the game-winning triple with 3.1 seconds left, as Far Eastern University outlasted De La Salle University 71-70 in a cardiac contest at Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.

The heart-stopping victory gave the Tamaraws the last spot in the final 4 of the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament, and put them in a collision course with defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in the semifinals.

Both La Salle and FEU finished with identical 8-6 win-loss records in the elimination round to set up the playoff contest, and the knockout game lived up to the hype.

There were 8 deadlocks and 9 lead changes, the last of which came in the dying seconds when Tolentino knocked down a three-pointer at the top of the key to push the Tamaraws ahead for good.

The Tamaraws will play the Blue Eagles in the final 4 on Sunday, with Ateneo owning a twice-to-beat advantage.

"It's just fitting that we made the final 4 this way," said FEU head coach Olsen Racela, whose team endured a four-game losing streak midway through the elimination round.

"During the game, we battled through adversity. Prince (Orizu) was in early foul trouble, and we were down by four points in the last minute. I just love how these guys responded."

Tolentino finished with 15 points, making three of his nine three-pointers, while Barkley Ebona earned Player of the Game honors after tallying 12 points and 16 rebounds, 10 of which came on the offensive end.

It looked as though La Salle would be headed to the final 4 after the Green Archers surged ahead 70-66 with just 63 seconds to go after Aljun Melecio converted an acrobatic lay-up that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd.

But FEU displayed its trademark "brave" spirit in the closing seconds. Kenneth Tuffin knocked down a long jumper with 39.9 seconds left, cutting the deficit to two points. The Tamaraws then buckled down defensively, forcing La Salle rookie Joaqui Manuel into an ill-advised jumper that missed.

With 15 seconds to go, the Tamaraws put the ball in the hands of Jasper Parker — their best shot-creator, as Tolentino said — and let him go to work. The guard fired a bullet pass to Tolentino in the dying seconds, and the sweet-shooting forward did not hesitate in putting up a three-pointer.

The shot hit the bottom of the net, and the FEU gallery at the Big Dome erupted in celebration while the De La Salle side deflated.

"I just want to give everything para sa FEU," an emotional Tolentino said after the game. "This could have been our last game, and iniisip ko lang kanina na hindi ko sasayangin lahat ng sacrifices ko. Baka isipin ng tao that we won because of me, because of my shot, pero it's as big as any basket na nagawa namin this game."

La Salle still had a chance, and coach Louie Gonzales drew up a perfectly executed play that saw Santi Santillan get open close to the basket. Unfortunately, the graduating big man just failed to convert.

This is FEU's sixth straight final 4 appearance, the longest active streak in the UAAP. For the fourth year in a row, the Tamaraws will be playing the Blue Eagles in the semifinals.

Santillan, in his last game for La Salle, finished with 20 points and six rebounds. Melecio struggled with his shot all game long, and finished with just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. The Green Archers shot only 35.85% from the field, and made 26 of 35 free throws.

FEU actually shot worse, at 28.57%. But they out-rebounded La Salle, 54-41, and had a 27-11 edge in offensive rebounds. The Tamaraws had 15 second chance points in the game.

Neither team ever gained control in the nip-and-tuck contest, with FEU tallying the game's biggest lead at just seven points.

The scores:

FEU 71 – Tolentino 15, Ebona 12, Tuffin 11, Escoto 10, Comboy 8, Parker 7, Inigo 5, Cani 2, Orizu 1, Stockton 0, Gonzales 0, Bienes 0

LA SALLE 70 – Santillan 20, Melecio 9, Caracut 9, Montalbo 7, Baltazar 6, Manuel 5, Samuel 4, Dyke 3, Go 3, Bates 2, Serrano 2

QUARTER SCORES: 22-21, 36-38, 54-51, 71-70

12-07-2018, 02:54 PM
^ This is how it was for De La Salle in UAAP Season 81.

It came down to a knockout game between them and FEU to decide which of them would face eventual champion Ateneo in the Final 4.

Losing their beefy 6-8 import for 12 games was just too telling a blow, and having a rookie head coach in Louie Gonzalez didn't help.

"Ikaw ba naman mawalan ng magaling na 6-8 siguro naman mahirapan ka din," said Mr Libog, over our usual weekend lunch, a few days after Taane Samuel suffered a Jones Fracture in their first game and was declared out for several weeks.

Turns out there was a heck of a silver lining to that, as Justin Baltazar, another 6-8 big man, went on to have a career season, capped with making the Mythical 5.

"Magaling naman talaga si Baltazar," Mr Libog asserted. "Kung sa UST or UE nagpunta 'yan baka nag-ROY pa nga 'yan, baka second or third time na niya sa Mythical 5."

The writing on the wall however became clear and unequivocal when it turned out the Final 4 cast was made up of the same teams La Salle couldn't beat or had a hard time with in the elimination rounds.

"Coincidence ba na 'yung Top 4 teams sila din 'yung mga tumalo sa La Salle? Coincidence ba na first time yata in 10 years na na-season sweep ng U.P. ang La Salle," asked Mr Libog, rhetorically I gathered.

"Huwag na nga 'yung Ateneo, siempre bigay na natin 'yon, unfair din naman na may (Angelo) Kouame kalaban mo tapos ikaw nabawasan ka pa ng Taane. Pero FEU, Adamson, lalo na U.P., ganun-ganun lang ba na mas magaling silang lahat sa La Salle? Parang may mali eh..." he continued to muse.

"Meron kang Baltazar, (Leonard) Santillan, even (Brandon) Bates isn't bad, better than AVO (former Green Archer Arnold Van Opstal), siguro naman dapat kaya mo sina (Arvin) Tolentino, sina (Sean) Manganti, sina (Juan) Gomez de Liano," he continued.

It takes more than size and skill to win a championship said I.

"Yeah right," he sniggered.

So how did La Salle not make the Final 4?

"Their perimeter is weak: Aljun (Melecio) is a mad bomber, (Andrei) Caracut never really panned out, Kib (Montalbo) is not a real point guard," he explained. "So sino magbibigay ng bola sa big men nila? Kahit pa gano kagaling mga big men mo, someone has to get the ball to them kasi hindi naman Kevin Durant ang mga 'yan, someone has to get them the ball, like Matt (Nieto) to Kouame."

"Kasalanan ba ni Gonzalez na hindi mabigyan ng bola big men niya? Baka naman hindi talaga kasi ganun mga guards niya. None of their guards grew up as creators or facilitators, unlike Matt."

Compelling, but perhaps not complete as an explanation.

Gonzalez is not exactly a big name in coaching, but surely he must know his basketball, as he has been around for a while.

"Ayan ka na naman. Coach na naman? Ano ba magagawa ng coach pag hindi gumana players?" Mr Libog continued. "Sunod na sasabihin mo, genius na naman si Tab (Baldwin) ninyo, haha!"

And so there we have it.

What's next for them then?

"When Taane comes back and they have (Tyus) Hill, (Jordan) Bartlett, and (Kurt) Lojera onboard ibang team na 'yan, guaranteed."

With that he picked up the check.

05-05-2019, 09:59 PM
https://servssports.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/img_20190505_145434.jpg?w=300&h=225 (https://servssports.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/13th-filoil-dlsu-d-ust-72-49/)

De La Salle University opened its 13th FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup with a bang by crushing University of Santo Tomas, 72-49, in opening day action Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. It was a fitting beginning as the new look Green Archers turned up the heat in the second period behind team captain Andrei Caracut and never looked back. READ MORE (https://servssports.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/13th-filoil-dlsu-d-ust-72-49/)

10-03-2019, 09:38 AM
Lasalle closed Round 1 of Season 82 at 3-4, exactly as a friend of mine predicted his team would go. Is he psychic? Probably. More likely, he's just seen his team in its many iterations and figured out what a lot of people did not, could not, or simply would not: Lasalle has a lot of talent, quality size, plus athleticism across most of their board. Unfortunately, a lot of that talent is taking quite a while to come together as a real team.

"Ikaw ba naman magdala ng tatlong one-done, na turns out isa lang pala dun ang magaling," remarked Mr. Libog in between helpings of stir-fried spinach and garlic and deep fried whole pompano. "Sinabi ko naman sa iyo 'di ba? Kelangan kasing-galing nina Danny Seigle, Stanley Pringle, at Raymond Almazan ang tatlong 'yon para sure champ ang Lasalle. Ano ba totoong nangyari?"

Only Jamie (Orme) Malonzo is good, Keys Meeker and James Laput aren't much, or at least haven't been getting minutes befitting their one-done status.

"Kasi nga si Orme lang naman totoong magaling sa kanilang tatlo," he retorted.

That's because they haven't gotten minutes, said I.

"Pare, tingin mo ba kung kunwari 'yung Meeker iniiwan lang sina (Jordan) Bartlett, sina (Kurt) Lojera, sina Aljun (Melecio), ganun ba ka-tanga coach niya na hindi siya ibababad? Or si Laput, kunwari pinapakain lang niya ng bola sina (Justin) Baltazar, sina (Brandon) Bates, hindi ba siya ibababad nung coach?" he asked rhetorically.

I mused over those thoughts and figured, he may have a point there.

"Huwag mo na pagisipan, alam mo na sagot dun, haha!" he said as he took a big gulp of his diet soda.

So what is in store for them in Round 2?

"I wouldn't be surprised kung sila makalaban ng Ateneo mo sa Finals," he boldly predicted.

"What!? You just said they sucked!" I answered, totally discombobulated.

"I said no such thing. Sabi ko lang, hindi pa sila totoong team, pero tignan mo pa din lineup nila. 'Yang Orme tingin ko pag nagpa-draft 'yan, huwag lang may kasabay siyang malaki na magaling, sure ako siya Number 1 pick. Nakita mo ba ginawa niyang dunk kay Thirdy? 'Yang Balti at Bates, don't tell me kung draft ngayon unahin mo sa kanila sina Isaac (Go) at Will (Navarro), hindi siguro. Alam mo kung san lang ako duda? Dun sa Aljun at Andrei (Caracut), kasi mukhang maraming gustong gawin ang dalawa bago sila matapos sa Lasalle,. If ever sumablay ang prediction ko, silang dalawa dapat sisihin, Kasi alangan naman si Orme, or si Balti, or even si Encho (Serrano), or si Tyrus Hill, so obviously kung sumablay ang Lasalle, 'yang dalawang beteranong mad bombers nila dapat sisihin," he concluded.

So what will their Round 2 look like?

"Tingin ko 6-1, siempre kay (Angelo) Kouame lang sila mahihirapan, the rest tingin ko kaya naman nila, hindi nila lalamunin ha, pero kaya naman nila. UP cannot defend, Adamson is too dependent on (Valandre) Chauca, UST is 99% (Soulemane) Chabi Yo, FEU nakachamba lang sa kanila. Again ha, maybe hindi nila lalamunin, pero sure ako kaya naman nila kung matchup - matchup lang."

Hang on to your green and white hats, folks.

Mr Libog has a heck of a batting average.

10-15-2019, 10:58 AM
"I fucking hate you," said I.

Mr Libog didn't even stop stuffing his gob with the excellently charred brick oven pizza with prosciutto and arugula as he asked, "What the fuck is your problem now?"

"We didn't make the spread on the last game goddam it!" I exclaimed exasperatedly.

"Its sports betting, you know, legal gambling but still gambling, by definition that is never a sure thing. If you want a sure thing, try stocks and futures," and he took a swig of his Diet Coke.

The Ateneo won by eight points over Lasalle over the weekend, and our inveterate book makers gave us a spread of... a little more than that. As we were both inclined to think the Ateneo would walk all over Lasalle, much like their first round encounter, we put money on the Blue Eagles.

"Its that so-called genius coach of yours, you know, that Tab Baldwin, he doesn't post (Angelo) Kouame up much, preferring that ridiculous pasa-pasa, ikot-bola bullshit. If he had actually trained Kouame the way (former Ateneo head coach Norman) Black trained Rabeh (Al-Hussaini) I swear to you Kouame would eat every frontline in the UAAP alive, every goddam frontline. But your guy doesn't want to do it that way, he thinks basketball is a team game where the, what was it he said? The 16th guy is just as important as the starting 5? God... what utter and absolute bullshit." And this time he was having at the very flavorful pasta tartuffo with vodka cream sauce.

"What the hell is it with you and Tab anyway? Did he used to date your sister? Hindi si (Lawrence) Chongson 'yan ha," I protested.

"I never said he was. And I would even go so far as to say he absolutely knows his stuff, certainly I might even say he's a good coach. Pero alam mo naman ang tingin ko sa coaches 'di ba? No such thing as a genius coach. Tab is not a genius coach, even Norman is not a genius coach," he said.

We've had this conversation many times before of course, and I was wondering how this turned up in a discussion over the last Ateneo-Lasalle game.

"If he was a real genius should he not go to his best player, all the time? Si Phil Jackson nga, kahit si Pat Riley, or si Greg Popovich, they always give credit and mention their superstars like Shaq (O'Neal), Kobe (Bryant), Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan. How come Tab, when he has an interview, barely mentions any of his guys. If I had Kouame on my team, I would never bullshit the media: I'd tell them straight that 99% of the reason we're winning is because of Kouame. Hindi nga tayo halos maka-shoot pag nakaupo si Kouame eh, wala din tayo taga-gulo sa loob para hindi maka-shoot mga kalaban pag wala si Kouame. So ano pa silbi nung hocky assist at nung playing the right way na parati niyang binibida? Isaac (Go) was what, 15% from three-point range before the UP game? I thought Tab turned him into the finest stretch 5 in the league? 15%? We're near the bottom in terms of offense, where are all the baskets that are supposed to come from the 'Tab System' that everyone raves about? Don't tell me it only works on defense, because the reason we're at the top on defense is because our import blocks more shots than entire teams, and changes even more shots than he blocks just by being on the floor. I doubt that has anything to do with any system." As he once again went through his litany.

I was waiting for him to get to the point.

"So if he had trained Kouame and gone to him, the way Phil went to Shaq, Kouame would probably be averaging an easy 25 and 15 to go with his 4 blocks. He would've gotten an easy 30 and 20 against Lasalle, for sure. He's 7-feet, maybe 260 pounds, and he's gotten stronger and faster. Ano gagawin ng Lasalle para pigilan siya, ubusin mga fouls nina (Justin) Baltazar, (Brandon) Bates, kahit nung bulok na (James) Laput? (Jamie) Malonzo nga fouled out eh. You wanna know why we lost that bet? Because your coach is not a genius, worse, he's stubborn, and probably a little ego-driven, meaning Ateneo has to win because of Tab and Tab's System, not because of Angelo Kouame," he emphasized.

"That's not a fair accusation. You can't argue with success, right?" said I.

"Of course, 10-0, sinong gago magsasabing mali si Tab? Pero you were asking why we didn't win the bet. The answer is simple: Tab has to win HIS way." he responded.

"So what about Lasalle, what happens to them now? They have five games to go, three against teams that beat them in Round 1," I asked.

"Kaya na nila mga 'yon. Kaya nila mawalis mga huling laro nila. Sana lang hindi atakihin ng katangahan coach nila, or sapian na naman ng espirito ng bwakaw at bayani basketball 'yun dalawang maliit nila (Andrei Caracut and Aljun Melecio). Huwag na nila pahirapan sarili nila, pahawak bola kay (Jordan) Bartlett, gawin lang catch-shoot sina Melecio at Caracut. Kung may magandang cut si (Encho) Serrano, sige bigay sa kanya. Bigyan din sa poste si Balti. Hayaan na din nila na mag-roam si Malonzo, kasi kaya naman nun gumawa na sarili lang niya," he enumerated.

He added quickly, "They still have quality size, good athletes, guys who can shoot the three, and they run well as a team. Even Wacky (Manuel) is a useful, heady type. Its all up to them if they want to simplify the game or overthink it just because they need to win their remaining games."

The Ateneo can basically lose all four of its remaining games and be - at worst - the second seed in a Final 4 scenario, meaning they still get twice-to-beat. But no one is betting on the Blue Eagles losing ANY games at all.

Lasalle still has the tools, the depth, and the weapons to make a big, hard push for the Finals, but they need to play to their strengths and put this last loss behind them.

"Ateneo-Lasalle Finals pa din tingin ko," was Mr Libog's parting shot as he finished the last of the rich tiramisu.