Posted Aug 14th 2014
UAAP Season 77 Preview: DLSU Green Archers
By Anton Roxas Posted Jul 5th 2014
It was 5 o’ clock in the afternoon on a holiday. Tuesday, June 24, 2014. School was out due to Manila Day but a handful student-athletes still had some work to do with less than three weeks to go before the opening of the UAAP’s 77th season.
The new men’s basketball champions, DLSU Green Archers were midway through their second practice of the day. Their first practice took place from 7 to 9 AM and involved five-on-five drills including the implementation of offensive plays and defensive sets.
Fifth year guard, Almond Vosotros just hit six three-point shots in a row before missing. Rebounding the missed shot was rookie point guard, Terence Mustre, son of former PBA player, Mike. The 5’8” lefty then kicked the ball out to the passer on this particular shooting drill. And that passer was none other than the team’s Head Coach, Juno Sauler.
Even though this is a basic shooting drill, Sauler is taking it seriously. He throws a hard chest pass to Vosotros for the shot.
Nothing but net.
“Last year’s system was keeping everything simple. Now, it’s keeping everything simpler,” said the second year head coach.
Well, there was really nothing out of the ordinary being done at Sauler’s camp that day. While the big men were pumping iron inside the gym, the guards were working on their skills on the court with the assistant coaches. Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres were also doing the same shooting drill with Paolo Sauler. Sophomore point guard Kib Montalbo was putting up one-handed floaters in the paint over Jun Limpot while Robert Bolick was working on pull-up jumpers off the dribble with Freddie Abuda.
This type of practice is a reflection of Sauler’s winning mantra: “To get better every day and to improve.”
But, when asked if he has been preaching something new to his players for the upcoming season, the enigmatic Sauler simply replied with two words: “To grow.”
Aside from Mustre, who was born in Quezon City but grew up in London, there will be three other new rookies in the Green Archers lineup.
Prince Rivero is a 6’3” forward who led La Salle Greenhills to the Finals of the NCAA Juniors basketball tournament last year. He has experience playing internationally, representing the Philippines along with fellow high school standouts Thirdy Ravena, Kobe Paras and Arvin Tolentino in the FIBA World 3x3 Under-18 Basketball Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia last October. Prior to moving to LSGH, Rivero helped lead the NU Bullpups to the UAAP Season 74 Juniors basketball title in 2011.
6’3” Julian Sargent is athletic wingman who was born in San Diego, California. He played at Cortez High School in Phoenix, Arizona before coming home to the Philippines for the first time two years ago. Sargent also played in club leagues in Phoenix along with fellow Fil-American Josan Nimes who currently plays for the Mapǔa Institute of Technology.
Completing the rookie round-up is another Fil-American, 6’6” Abu Tratter. Tratter was born in Siniloan, Laguna before moving to San Francisco, California at the age of five. He honed his skills at St. Francis High School and is ready to add some versatility to the Green Archers this season.
With these new additions, the La Salle frontline has grown even taller. The 6’5” Yutien Andrada will also be returning to the lineup after missing last season due to a torn ACL on his right knee. The tallest player on the team, 6’9” Arnold van Opstal believes that Andrada’s return and their superior size will help them tremendously in their campaign this season.
“Our size will definitely make a huge difference. Especially will Yutien coming back. The way he plays, as you know, he’s a role player. He’s not really a go-to-guy. Jeron being Jeron, loves driving it. He loves having a player like Yutien under the post for the drop passes. He makes things a lot easier. He spaces the floor. It’s just vital to have role players like him. He’s a huge help,” said the Fil-German.
No longer around to help the team though is LA Revilla, who had graduated as a champion. Aside from the steady point guard, Oda Tampus, Luigi dela Paz and Gabby Reyes will not be a part of this year’s edition of Green Archers which consists of just 14 players.
Back for his final tour of duty is Norbert Torres. The 6’6” big man is entering UAAP Season 77 with a renewed sense of excitement.
“In terms of preparation, it’s kind of like when you first come into La Salle. You just put a lot more effort. Now, you give it your all because it’s going to be your last. We’ve really gelled this past two to three months together,” he said.
Since recapturing the UAAP crown last year, La Salle basketball has been on a tear, winning the PCCL title and more recently, the Fil-Oil championship. But, despite experiencing continued success, Teng says that the team won’t be slowing down any time soon.
“We’re hungrier than last year. So, this year, we’re really going to strive to win the championship again,” said the 20 year old UAAP Season 76 Finals MVP and Team Captain.
“Nag-tatrabaho kami para manalo ng back-to-back this year,” added Vosotros.
La Salle has been practicing twice-a-day all summer long. Vosotros has added bulk to his once skinny frame. Three-point specialist Matt Salem has noticeably trimmed down. The Green Archers are serious about extending their UAAP reign and are doing it in a simple and methodical manner.
By 6 P.M., practice was finally over and the players of DLSU’s Team B began taking the floor. Standing out in the crowd was Ben M’Bala, the prized recruit from Southwestern University. The Cameroonian took part in a playful one-on-one contest with another promising recruit in Joshua Torralba. Torralba, a fearless point guard who played one season for Emilio Aguinaldo College three years ago, has committed to DLSU and will be eligible to suit up for thee Green Archers next year. He’s also grown a few inches and gotten bigger since he was last seen in Manila. Also commanding attention on the court was a familiar “Hefty Lefty”. Yes, it was Jason Perkins who was doing extra work by shooting around with guys from Team B.
Although he had already completed two practices, Perkins looked fresh enough to go through a third session.
Even on a holiday.