New recruits: Renzo Navarro, Josh Caracut, Jollo Go, Josh Torralba, Daryl Pascual, Larry Muyang, Andrew Langston, Leandro Joson, John Gob
Holdovers: Thomas Torres, Julian Sargent, Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter, Jason Perkins, Prince Rivero,
Departures: Yutien Andrada, Rob Bolick, Kib Montalbo, Terrence Mustre, Matt Salem, Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, Almond Vosotros
Season 77 results: The DLSU Green Archers had all the tools to become back-to-back UAAP champions last season. Their roster was deep and their defense impenetrable. With a towering frontcourt of Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, Jason Perkins, Yutien Andrada, and Jeron Teng, teams couldn’t buy a bucket down low. All season long, the Archers held opponents to a 36.0 percent shooting clip (#2 in the UAAP) and 85.25 points per 100 poessessions (#3). If you were a fast-breaking team, they would slow you down, giving up only 7.1 markers in that category (#2). Simply put, the Taft squad made sure you played out of your comfort zone.
La Salle ended up with a 10-4 win-loss card for second place, tied with the FEU Tamaraws. Interestingly though, the Archers struggled against FEU in all their head-to-head match-ups including their Final Four encounter. The Tams won a total of four times against La Salle in Season 77. If Ateneo had NU as their kryptonite last year, La Salle had FEU.
They were so close of getting back into the UAAP Finals except that FEU’s Mac Belo had other plans. If you really think about it, if they got back in the Finals, they clearly had a shot to win the title against the NU Bulldogs. FEU just had the firepower to get through the DLSU defense and enough players to match-up with them at all five positions.
Season 78 outlook: It will be interesting to see how the new-look Archers plan to play this year given the changes to their roster. They only have six guys coming back from last season, with a ton of rookies filling their ranks. Jeron Teng will always be Jeron Teng, meaning that he will remain the team’s go-to-guy, while you know Perkins will be a bully down in the paint.
Aside from their two main gunners, the rest of the guys from last season – Thomas Torres, Abu Tratter, Julian Sargent, and Prince Rivero – all have shown great improvements based on the FilOil Flying-V preseason tournament. If you’re a hardcore DLSU fan and watched all their games back in the summer, you have to be excited about the development of Thomas Torres. Last year, Torres got injured early on and figured in just five games, averaging 11.8 minutes and 3.0 points. During the FilOil season however, Torres showed flashes of brilliance and was more aggressive than he has ever been. He looks to be more comfortable as the team’s main point guard.
As for the rookies coming in for the Gang Green squad, fans should be psyched about high school standouts Jollo Go and Andrei Caracut. Go, a former Batang Gilas member who recently competed in the U-17 FIBA World Championship, is a deadeye shooter who can spread the floor for the Archers. Caracut meanwhile, is as steady as they come at the point guard position. In the preseason, he played heavy minutes for La Salle. He shows no nervousness or fear whenever he plays and is remarkably patient despite his young age. The NCAA Juniors Finals MVP is a proven winner going back to his San Beda days, so look for him to play a vital role for DLSU this year.
Another huge advantage for La Salle this year is their coaching staff. They still have Head Coach Juno Sauler calling the shots and now have added veteran PBA coach Siot Tanquincen to their staff. Despite the number of rookies that they have, the team has a solid defense-first type of mentality. The scoring will fall on the shoulders of Teng and Perkins, so it’ll be up to the rest of the guys to work as one on the defensive end.
Season 78 prediction: Final Four appearance.
Given the team’s talented roster and seasoned coaching staff, DLSU is clearly headed for the Final Four. They will probably win at least nine or ten games like they did last season and will be tough to knockout come the semis.
If Jeron Teng can continue to improve his game and become an MVP contender, things will become much easier for Coach Juno Sauler and his team. Last year, Teng put up almost 18 points a game to go with his 7.0 rebounding average. DLSU will rely heavily on their King Archer, so expect Teng to explode for huge numbers again this season.
The question though is whether this new roster will gel by the end of the elimination round. They surely won’t be perfect to start the season, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility if DLSU was to suddenly transform into a mid-season well-oiled defensive machine.
That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it to the UAAP Finals. Ateneo, FEU, and NU are all contenders to win the title and DLSU should be included in the discussion. If they can muster up solid game plans and execute defensively, they can sneak out of the Final Four and onto the Finals.