By Gio Gloria
Almost is never enough.
Such has been the narrative for the DLSU Green Archers in recent times, when despite taking a couple of steps forward, they seem to take a few steps back.
For the third time in four UAAP seasons, the Green Archers finished in fifth place, with two of those finishes having come due to losses in the playoff for the last spot in the Final Four.
What was once a promising start turned out to be a tragic end as poor late-game execution and costly errors coupled with some injuries and suspensions doomed La Salle from fulfilling the gargantuan expectations they placed on themselves. Add to that the controversy surrounding Schonny Winston and it was a recipe for disaster.
Were there any positives in Season 85?
For one, DLSU was able to snap an almost five-year losing streak to the ADMU Blue Eagles and any time you get to beat your archrivals is always a good time.
Aside from that, talent has never and may not ever elude the Green Archers. Rain or shine, great year or down year, La Salle has been able to recruit so well. Players from abroad and even from storied high school programs here have been drawn to the allure of playing for DLSU.
Much of that was on full display as the likes of Kevin Quiambao, Raven Cortez, Penny Estacio, Earl Abadam, and Jan Macalalag had their moments whether in support of Winston, Evan Nelle, and Michael Philips or in their absences.
But then, championships are won with how talent is utilized and not merely collected.
The Green Archers have time and time again shown that they are capable of hanging and even beating the best. But then, they can at times get too complacent and even play down to the level of their competition, to the point that it bites them back. Coming up with big leads was never really the issue as these emerged when La Salle’s offense was firing on all cylinders. Maintaining the lead though, was another matter altogether, as big leads tended to change the way DLSU ran things and when they would revert to what got them the big leads, it was at times too little and too late for the Green Archers.
What will it take to right the ship? An innovative offensive mind? A defensive guru? It’s easier to say this or that. Essentially, though, La Salle needs someone who can put the players in a position to win. That could mean crafting the right play to get the best shot possible or disrupting opponents to the point that they’re dazed and confused. The controversy surrounding Winston also proved to be a thorn in the side of DLSU and at this point, it’s better to learn from it rather than mope about what could have been.
Another UAAP season ends in disappointment for the DLSU Green Archers, but hope springs eternal for a program that never seems to run out of talent. They enter an off-season with major areas to address and amid all the setbacks, it’s how they respond that will matter more in the end.