Judging from its performance against defending champion Far Eastern U on Wednesday night, La Salle’s ‘Mayhem’ defense remains a work in progress.
Green Archers’ first-year coach Aldin Ayo admitted his wards should be smarter in protecting the leather and stay more disciplined defensively following a hard-earned 83-78 victory over the Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
While star wingman Jeron Teng and prized recruit Ben Mbala lived up to the hype, La Salle struggled to get its game going in full blast as the Green Archers found the Tamaraws a tough nut to crack, turning what was expected by many a one-sided affair into a tight encounter.
“That was a hard-fought game,” said Ayo. “Ine-expect namin naman na ganito. I’ve been telling the guys na it’s not going to be easy.”
The Tamaraws trailed by as many as 16 points but worked their way back behind their stymieing defense that forced the Green Archers to turn the ball over 27 times, 10 more than their output.
“People talked a lot about their ‘Mayhem’ but when you look at the stats, they had 27 and we only had 17. They were able to see FEU’s version of ‘Mayhem,’” noted Racela, who was also satisfied with how the Tamaraws stood their ground against the 6-foot-7 Mbala, the Green Archers’ dominant import.
“That’s what we told everybody: Don’t be afraid, bring it to him. The boys showed really how tough they are which I think is a good sign for us,” he added.
The way the Tamaraws repeatedly broke the Archers’ full-court pressure also left Racela pleased no end.
“We don’t want ballhoggers in this team especially with the kind of defense La Salle put up against us. Hindi puwedeng isang tao lang, mata-trap ka lang so we have to give-up the ball and find the open man,” he said. “We were so happy when Prince dunked over Mbala. If you’re trapping it’s going to get frustrating pag nai-score-an ka. That was the objective.”
For Ayo, the rust of not playing intense basketball in the last three weeks since their prematurely called off tuneup with the Tamaraws plus the Green Archers’ poor decision-making in transition nearly cost them.
“That’s decision making especially in transition. Dapat lamang kami, 3 against 2 or 4 versus 3, we just did not make good decisions on (our) transition attack,” he said.
“You’re going to adjust because they’re going to break our press and they’ll try their best to figure out kung paano babasagin ang depensa namin, which they did. We have to work on that,” Ayo added. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports