La Salle head coach Juno Sauler reacts after a play. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champions La Salle got lucky -- again -- in their UAAP men's basketball game against the University of the East (UE), according to head coach Juno Sauler.
Sauler had previously said the Green Archers were "lucky" in their game-clinching play when they won their first game against National University (NU) last week.
And they were fortunate once more against the Red Warriors.
"We were lucky to pull this through with 36 turnovers," Sauler noted.
The Green Archers committed 22 miscues in the first half alone, but were better in execution down the stretch against the Red Warriors on their way to a 60-58 victory.
Sauler stressed that they prepared well for the inevitable UE press. "We knew they were going to press," he said.
"That's what we tried to focus on, but siyempre it's different when we practice," he added. "The press that we practiced, it's not the way UE plays, so it's hard."
"That's what we tried to work on. We knew they were gonna do it for forty minutes, but apparently, we didn't do a good job with their press with 36 turnovers," he also said.
For Sauler, it was their defense that eventually pushed them to victory in the fourth quarter.
"They (the players) defended very well in the fourth. I think we gave up 12 points, that was big. Being able, not to shut down UE, but to give up (only) 12 points in the fourth quarter, that made the difference also," he said.
Still, the turnovers were a cause of concern, especially as the players who committed the most – Almond Vosotros (9), Jeron Teng (6) and Jason Perkins (5) – were also their primary source of offense.
Sauler said it is still part of the team's adjustment process without starting guard Thomas Torres, who is still out with a foot injury.
"We're having a problem not only with Almond but even Kib (Montalbo) at the point guard. When Kib's out, Almond has to play the point, then sometimes Robert (Bolick) and Jeron," said Sauler.
"Maybe if Thomas played, maybe instead of 36 baka 35 (turnovers) lang," he added jokingly.