34 points. That’s how big the margin of victory was for the Meralco Bolts. That would turn out to be the biggest margin of victory ever in franchise history. The Bolts have played Blackwater Elite (-14.8 NetRating in Governor’s Cup) four times and they haven’t beaten them by this much.
The Victim: Defending Commissioner’s Cup Champions, Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.
What the hell happened here?
For starters, any basketball guru (or anyone who understands the basic concept of basketball) will tell you that if you make more shots than you miss, you are more likely to win. The Bolts shot 56.5% from the field and 56.5% from beyond the three-point line resulting in 64.1% eFG.
It will take a major defensive meltdown to lose when you shoot like that.
Remember, this is the same Meralco Bolts that has been glued to the cellar of the PBA in terms of shooting efficiency. This is a team that has shot below the league average of three-point percentage for the past three conference.
What the hell happened here?
In this game, the Bolts exploited the mismatches they had at the forward positions to cause frantic switching from the Texters and open shooters on the perimeter. Jared Dillinger, Andre Emmett, Sean Anthony, and Cliff Hodge were either too fast for Ranidel De Ocampo or too strong for Larry Fonacier. When the Bolts’ forwards penetrated to the basket, the Texters’ defense collapsed, creating three-point shots for Mike Cortez (3-3!!!), Sean Anthony (2-4), and some for Andre Emmett (6-6!!!).
Speaking of Sean Anthony…
Sean Anthony suddenly changed to LeBron James for a night (without the hairline and the drama). Aside from swatting away chase-down blocks, there was nothing that Sean Anthony didn’t do in this game. He hustles for offensive rebounds (3 ORB). He grabbed more defensive rebounds than anyone else (9 DRB). He made mid-range jumpers, long-range jumpers, and finished at the basket. He moved the ball around and passed well out of the double team. He had 24 points on 18 FGA, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and only 1 turnover.
On a normal night, Sean Anthony is the PBA’s Boris Diaw. He’s not quick, but he’s a crafty player who can score, pass, and rebound.
But for one night, Sean Anthony was LeBron James. And Talk ‘N Text paid a heavy price for that.
The Continuing Surge
Jared Dillinger and Kelly Nabong once again contributed heavily since their addition to the Meralco Bolts line-up. It’s still a small sample to play with, but since these two have been playing heavy minutes, the Bolts have been better at grabbing rebounds (51.4 and 49.5 TRB% in their last two wins) and when they have been grabbing rebounds they have yet to lose (4-0 in this conference when posting at least 49.0 TRB%). Good rebounding results in crazy stuff like this:
Kelly Nabong For The Win.
The Bolts also continue to be extremely careful at handling the ball with a 7.9 TOV% in this game. They are still leading the league with a lowest TOV% at 11.6.
Apart from their offensive triumphs, the Bolts managed to play pretty good defense. They were able to hold the Texters to a conference low 85 points in which they shot only 40.5% from the field. Aside from Seiya Ando, the Bolts have similar size and length in other positions making it easier to keep on switching on picks. The Texters don’t have a BIG guy to take advantage of those switches and so they were taken advantage of.
It was nice to see the Bolts dominate on both sides of the floor for a change. Will they be able to keep it up?
I highly doubt that the Bolts will see another game where the Bolts shoot more than 50% from beyond the three-point line (or will we ever see Mike Cortez hitting 100% of his shots), but with Jared Dillinger to slash carelessly and Kelly Nabong to collect offensive rebounds, they should continue to improve on offense from the games before this. This game is probably an outlier, but the offensive trajectory should be going up.
On defense, they played a good one in this game because the Texters didn’t have a big body to bang it down low. The Bolts are still quite small and they will struggle if they run into bigger teams.
But we can leave that to worry later on, at least up until the 9th of June when they will play the Alaska Aces.
Right now, let’s just bask in the glory that Sean Anthony was the superstar for one night. With MVP Candidate Jayson Castro, Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP Ranidel De Ocampo, and Rookie Of The Year Candidate Matt Ganuelas-Rosser all on the floor, Big Sean shined brightest of them all.
Featured Image Credit: www.seananthony10.com), Videos courtesy of ABS-CBN Sports