MANILA, Philippines – The La Salle Green Archers’ campaign in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament has certainly gotten off to a bad start.
Highlighted by early losses against contenders and cellar-dwellers alike, the hype surrounding the new-look Archers have slowly turned to dissent, even within their own fan base.
However, the men in green seem to have found their groove back after last defeating the high-scoring Adamson Soaring Falcons for their second win of the young season.
Although La Salle is still stuck in 6th place with a 2-3 record, team captain Andrei Caracut took the time to put his team’s doubters in their place.
“Unang-una, wala akong pakialam sa mga sinasabi ng iba,” he said after closing out Adamson with a season-high 15-point performance. “Hindi naman namin sila kilala at saka kami yung nagtatrabaho eh. Hindi naman sila nagtatrabaho eh, so wala kaming iniisip. Sabi ko, forget the outside noise.”
(First of all, I don’t care what others say about us. We don’t know them and we’re the ones working here. They’re not the ones doing the work, so we’re not thinking about them. I told my teammates to forget the outside noise.)
“Alam kong maraming doubters pero alam mo 'yun, wala naman kaming paki doon,” he continued. “Yung paki namin, yung sarili namin, yung team namin. Sabi ko, stay together.”
(I know there are a lot of doubters, but you know, we don’t really care about them. We care about ourselves and our team. I told my teammates to stay together.)
Expectations ran sky-high in the preseason for La Salle after the team acquired the services of former NBA G-League coach Jermaine Byrd and a trio of one-and-done Fil-foreigners in Jamie Malonzo, Keyshawn Meeker and James Pado.
However, the hype quickly died down as the Archers slid as low as 7th place with Meeker and Pado not really making an immediate impact as they should. Only Malonzo has so far lived up to the billing of a one-and-done recruit with averages of 16 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
Amid these early-season struggles, however, Caracut was quick to remind his teammates of what they have been missing so far in their campaign.
“Sabi ko lang, nandito tayo para i-enjoy ang laro ng basketball kasi nandito rin tayo sa La Salle,” he said. “Dream namin maglaro dito tapos siyempre yung pride at passion sa paglalaro, kailangang-kailangan sa game.”
(I just told them, we’re here to enjoy the game because we’re here in La Salle. It’s a dream for us to play here and of course, we need to show pride and passion whenever we play.)
La Salle now has a golden opportunity to show more poise under pressure as they next face the loaded UP Fighting Maroons, their Season 81 playoff run stoppers, on Wednesday, September 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com