UAAP Season 84 was short and quick*. (*Just seven weeks of frantic college basketball—four times a day, three times a week.) UAAP Season 84 was weird*. (*It started with no fans, then a few, then a packed, roaring arena for a Game 3 UAAP Finals game in May*.) (*What?) Season 85 should be different: no more bubble, multiple venues, with a game schedule that allows us to breathe. There are no more excuses. Drop all asterisks. No BS in 85. It’s PAYBACK SEASON.
The De La Salle University Green Archers will have a chip on their shoulder for UAAP Season 85.
The Green Archers will be coming off a promising third place finish last season as a springboard to bring back the title to Taft this season. They are recharged as they settle in head coach Derrick Pumaren’s system with a full preseason under their belts to prepare for battle.
This edition of the Green Archers is loaded with talent from top to bottom. It is now time for them to find how all their pieces will fit when the stakes are at its highest. This is payback time for the men in Taft.
“There was a reason why we shortened the rotation for Season 84. There were Fil-Ams, seniors, and former champions that needed to gel. Now, we are able to use everyone in the roster in every single game,” Ben Phillips told SLAM Philippines.
Phillips said the Green Archers needed to fit different pieces to achieve its goal for last season, which as make the Final Four after a four-year drought. The team bought into a system in a compressed bubble season, but emphasized the patience and discipline needed to perform given the circumstances. They all needed to work to find the right formula for last season.
Phillips admitted that the adjustment was part of why coach Pumaren’s lineups had shortened rotations during game time. He said their coach was very specific on his “40-minute press” system and that it has a high learning curve for first-timers that made up most of the team last year. A third-place finish was in line with the team’s goal last season, but they know they are capable of more with all the talent at their disposal.
“We took the time this preseason to get used to coach Derrick’s system. The team wants to be number one in defense this year and get everyone on the same page,” Phillips said.
Fans saw the emphasis on defense that this La Sallian team had in Season 84. They were able to win games solely on gritty games and low-scoring bouts, which worked well as other teams tried to find their groove coming off the pandemic hiatus. The Green Archers were able to use their defense as an anchor for the likes of Schonny Winston and Evan Nelle to provide scoring bursts when they needed it the most. They acknowledge that the team needs to find a balance between their offense and defense this season.
DLSU will be reloaded this year with JC Macalalag, Raven Cortez, and more to beef up their roster. They aim to be the number one in defense this season and hope their offense becomes consistent as they compete with the best collegiate teams in the country. The Green Archers have been getting into game shape with scrimmages every other day, going to Japan for preseason preparations, and competing in the PBA D-League and Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup. They are looking to sharpen their system currently so the results come when they matter the most during the season.
“I always emphasize to my teammates the importance of being a student-athlete. It is an honor to wear the jersey of one of the premier schools in the country. We need to couple that off with bringing a championship to La Salle,” said Phillips.
Being a student-athlete is something Ben Phillips reminds his teammates of with classes going back to face-to-face in Taft. This is a refreshing sight as he wants everyone on the roster to focus on their studies as much as their play on the court. How they are as students and athletes are a reflection of the La Sallian community hence it is important to handle their responsibilities as student-athletes.
Playing for a premier university in the Philippines is an honor that Ben wants his teammates to understand. The full support of the La Sallian community is with them and he wants the team to do them proud this season. The physical and mental stress of being a student-athlete takes a lot of discipline to overcome, but they want to bring back the championship to Taft Avenue. It will not be easy, but Phillips acknowledges that he will need to lead by example as one of the senior members of the team.
Payback is in sight for the men in green and white. Their title charge will start on October 1 in a Final Four rematch against the UP Fighting Maroons.
[Photos by UAAP]