These two teams played two tight games last season, with both sides earning a win. In the first encounter, NU won 59-55, as the Bulldogs managed to shoot 58.33% while holding the Archers to just 38.46% shooting, with a frustrated DLSU coach Dindo Pumaren fielding in 14 players in vain, trying to find a combination that could put points on the board. In the second game, NU shot even better, finishing at a 64% clip, but once again, Pumaren dug deep into his line-up, keeping only Martin Reyes seated, and came up with 16 points from Almond Vosotros, helping La Salle stay ahead 59-56. In both games, Emmanuel Mbe dominated, averaging 18 points and 18 rebounds, as the La Salle bigs couldn't handle him. The two teams also tussled in the Fil-Oil tournament, with Almond Vosotros once again powering DLSU to the win, 81-74, with his 17 points, as the Archers were able to shrug off a 29 point explosion by Bobby Ray Parks
Stat to Watch : Surprisingly, NU is actually the worst rebounding team in the league so far, getting just 37 rebounds and 11.5 offensive rebounds a game, while allowing opponents to pull down on average, 48 rebounds and 19.25 offensive rebounds, both second worst in the league. With only Emmanuel Mbe and Parks really pulling down rebounds, teams have an easy target as to who to box out. The other guys like Glenn Khobuntin, Denice Villamor and Spencer Eman, the latter especially, when he's spelling Mbe, have to do more in that category.
Player to Watch : If Emmanuel Mbe expects to come out and dominate the DLSU frontline again, he might need to reconsider, what with the Archer frontline now featuring guys like Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres. Since his first game versus UST, when he finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks, Mbe hasn't made much of an impact, playing less than 30 minutes in the succeeding three games, and he hasn't pulled down double-digit boards the entire season. NU definitely needs him to win, but can he pull it off versus DLSU?
Stat to Watch : The Archers are not the prettiest shooting team in the league, in fact, they're the worst, at 33.49%, but they're helped out by the fact that they pull down the most offensive rebounds per game, 24, and lead the league in second-chance points with 11.33. To do that versus NU, they'll need to neutralize Mbe and Parks, but seeing as how limited NU's team is outside of those two guys, that in itself might be enough to get the victory.
Player to Watch : Yutien Andrada reminded everyone that he's the most important Archer big, coming back from an injury in the season opener that caused him to miss the Ateneo game, to post 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in just 18 minutes against UP. For comparison's sake, it takes Norbert Torres 21.3 minutes to get 5.7 points and 7 rebounds, and AVO 18 minutes to get 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. While he may not have the strength to guard Mbe one on one, he has the length and speed to serve as weakside help, as well as guard one of the shooty forwards all the way out on the perimeter, without sacrificing the interior D.
Prediction: DLSU Green Archers