After another heart-attack inducing game, the San Miguel Beermen outshot the fesity Barako Bull Energy in overtime, winning 115-112. A perfect description for this game? All offense and no defense as both teams shot so well from the field that they decided to try and outgun each other. Once again, import Reggie Williams paced the Beermen with his highly efficient play as he scored 33 points on only 20 attempts (eFG% of 77.5 percent). He also hit 5 of his 9 three-pointers, including 2 booming ones in overtime. His partner, San Miguel’s so-called “2nd import,” scored 26 points on a 71.4% shooting clip while grabbing 10 rebounds (half of them offensive), in this high octane offensive game, let us first review the keys to the game.
Keys to the Game
San Miguel did start out hot, scoring 32 points in the 1st quarter and ending the 1st half with 60 points, totals that are way above their averages so far. The only problem was that no defense was played for much of the night as Barako also started out hot. The Beermen also wasted what was a 10 point lead in the 2nd quarter as Barako cut that down to 2 before halftime.
Barako Bull Energy
San Miguel Beermen
Looking at their quarter scoring, the Beermen were actually outscoured in the last 3 quarters. They also performed worse in the 2nd half when compared to their last two games. This is primarily due to their defense as they could not consistently tighten up and stop Eric Wise or the locals.
Hit your FREEthrows
At the very least, the Beermen shot better than they did last game and made more than they missed. Despite shooting 41.9% from 3 and 52.3% overall, they shot a measly 52.6% from the charity stripe, one of the reasons the game was so close. The only player who didn’t really shoot well was Sol Mercado, who missed all 3 of his attempts. June Mar Fajardo hit 6 of his 8 while Reggie Williams 2 of his 3. I think the bigger issue is that they only attempted 18 of them, almost half of their conference average of 33 FTAs. The dive in attempts can be attributed to Williams who was attacking a lot less.
Clean up the offensive glass
There weren’t as many rebounding opportunities in this game with both teams shooting so well from the field but San Miguel still lost the battle on boards 48-50 (10-14 offensive). I would say it is a small victory as they kept the opposing teams’ offensive rebounds down as compared to their last 3 opponents, who averaged 18.3 against them.
June Mar Fajardo vs Mick Pennisi
I think Fajardo deserves recognition for such a gutsy performance. San Miguel fans across the country held their collective breath as he twisted his ankle and was forced to go to the dugout early in the 3rd quarter, a huge blow for a team locked in a close battle. But he decided to walk it off and came back to play almost every minute of the 4th and OT, scoring 8 points and grabbing 2 rebounds.
As for his match-up against Pennisi, the older half of the Bruise Brothers couldn’t do much to stop him on the defensive end as Fajardo scored 11 points in the 1st half and rattled 7 straight points to open the 3rd quarter (including 3 straight offensive rebounds) before twisting his ankle. Even on one leg, Pennisi could not do anything to stop him in OT. The problem lied in the defensive end as Fajardo was a little to slow to close out on Pennisi as he ended the half scoring 11 points of his own on 3 three-pointers. He also took advantage of Fajardo’s slowed movement in the 2nd half, knocking down 3 more shots from deep. Fortunately, Fajardo was able to foul him out late in OT, which proved crucial as his replacement Jason Deutchman missed on a shot that could have sent the game into another overtime.
Game Notes and Observations
Hot Starts, Weak Finishes
Speaking of hot starts, Sol Mercado had himself a solid outing as he bounced back from such a poor start to the conference.
1st 3 games
He was aggressive off the bat, scoring 6 points in the 1st quarter on several drives. He also had that one crucial 3 in overtime but also almost cost San Miguel the game by missing 2 FTs in the waning seconds that could have kept the game out of reach. He made up for it by playing solid defense against Jeric Fortuna, who could not pull off a clean look to tie it. This game showed why it’s so important for him to be aggressive and keep driving hard to the paint. He’s also a much more effective passer that way, instead of being stationary trying to throw post entry passes. If he’s not being aggressive and scoring in the paint, then he doesn’t bring as much value to the team.
Arwind Santos on the other hand looked to have another great game. He was hustling for loose balls and even though he conceded 9 points and 7 rebounds to Eric Wise in the 1st quarter, I thought he played solid post defense against him especially since Barako wasn’t getting as much ball movement with Wise going 1-on-1. Unfortunately, Santos looked overmatched as the game wore on as Wise routinely out-muscled and out-positioned him. Santos could not even stay in front of him in the post, especially in the 4th quarter and OT. In contrast to his last 2 games, he had a pretty good 1st half and a bad finish to the game.
With Marcio Lassiter still out with a deep leg wound, Ronald Tubid and Chris Lutz (8 points, 2 of 6 from 3, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) stepped up quite nicely. Starting in his place, Tubid (7 points, 1 of 2 from three, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) picked his spots well and played controlled for the most part (only called for 1 isolation play). As long as he keeps the needless antics and ISOs down, his ability to spot up, especially from the corner, will be appreciated. Lutz (8 points, 2 of 6 from three, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) followed up with another good outing in this game as he knocked down back to back three-pointers late in the 4th to keep San Miguel in the game. That is hopefully a sign that his confidence is back up. We’re still not seeing the killer crossover as much but his shooting and ability to push the pace will be more than enough to make up for Lassiter’s absence.
Already dealing with injuries to Paolo Hubalde and the aforementioned Lassiter and Fajardo, San Miguel suffered another blow as Chris Ross left the game sometime in the 4th due to a calf injury. According to an in-game report, Ross said that he felt a “rip” in his right calf. If he has to miss extended time, the team will have to rely on Mercado (who is more SG than PG) and barely-used Chico Lanete. His ability to lead the team will also be missed, as he keyed several of the Beermen’s runs the past 4 games (went scoreless in 6 minutes of 1st half action but scored 10 points in the 2nd half). With key guys hobbled, San Miguel may look to rest some of them, especially Fajardo who has had several minor leg injuries this season alone. As San Mig Coffee showed, it is much more important to get players healthy and finish strong.
The Eagle and the Archer
When Fajardo sat out a bit with his bum ankle and Santos unable to defend Wise, I would have liked to see Justin Chua and Rico Maierhofer given more minutes, especially in trying to stop Wise from going wild in the paint. Maierhofer showed that he would not be overpowered against Arizona Reid and Chua had a good stretch in the 2nd where he hit 4 straight points and looked to be able to stay in front of Wise. I do think the coaching staff has to trust these 2 players a lot more.
At the very least, San Miguel came out of this game with a 4-game winning streak and look to have a better hold over one of the 4 twice-to-beat advantages heading into the players. With several key players hobbled, it is time for the rest of the team to step up and hold the fort as they recover.