Last September 1, we were treated to a rematch of the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup finals as the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Alaska Aces faced off in their only elimination round match-up in the Governor’s Cup.

Alaska took control of the game early, but Ginebra was able to trim the lead in the 3rd, setting up a see-saw 4th quarter that saw both teams trading big buckets and executing some pretty good plays and sets.

In this feature, we’ll take a look at some plays from both teams and break down how they were executed, what made them successful and what we can learn from them.

Before we start, I’d like to thank Aimee Grace Tapeceria for the videos, if you want to watch some PBA game replays, then her website is the place for you.

Now, let’s start with the Barangay.

Ginebra uses Horns and ball movement to get Caguioa an open three.

The Situation

Off an Alaska turnover, Ginebra is holding on to a 91-89 lead with around four minutes left in the game. After a botched fastbreak attempt, the Gin Kings reset their offense with Tenorio calling out the rock-on Horns signal.

The Execution

The set starts out with LA up top with Wilson and Lowhorn giving him a double screen from on his left and right around the three point line, while Caguioa and Baracael spotting up in opposite corners.


The typical Horns formation starts w/ theball handler up top with the two bigs high to set screens and two shooters at the corners.

Tenorio then chooses to use the Wilson screen to his left, driving into the lane along with Wilson who rolls to the basket while Lowhorn spots up on top of the key.


This initial action forced Hontiveros to leave Caguioa and switch to Tenorio, with Casio switching to cover The Spark.

The ball then gets kicked out to Lowhorn as McKines is forced to close out on him because of his three point shooting. After a slight hesitation, he takes McKines off the dribble and drives left as well. This forces four Alaska defenders to pay close attention to him.


Lowhorn’s drive forced the bulk of the Alaska defense to focus on him.

By this time, Tenorio takes advantage of his man not paying attention to him to spot up at the corner, with Caguioa and Baracael adjusting to both wings to fill the spaces left by the defense. Lowhorn, seeing this, quickly gets the ball to Tenorio who then touch-passes it quickly to Mark Caguioa for a wide open three that swishes the net and extends their lead to five points.


Two quick passes and you have a wide open Caguioa beyond the arc.

Watch the entire play below:

What did we Learn?

The value of good penetration: Caguioa’s open look was the result of two good drives to the basket by Tenorio and Lowhorn. The first drive by Tenorio (along with the Wilson roll) after the screen forced McKines to initially help on the two players going into the basket. This freed up Lowhorn up top who forced the Alaska defense to further adjust after McKines had to close out hard on him. The second drive (Lowhorn) successfully caught McKines off-guard and forced Thoss, Hontiveros and Abueva to adjust to stop Lowhorn’s drive. This led to an open Tenorio (and a Casio gamble) and then to an even more open Caguioa.

Caguioa and Lowhorn Pick and Rolls

The Situation

We’ll be featuring two sets of Caguioa and Lowhorn pick and rolls here. The first one was the possession Ginebra had prior to the Horns set we showed you above. With the score tied at 89, Ginebra initially tried to free Caguioa up using two down screens. When that didn’t work and with the clock winding down, Caguioa and Lowhorn then went into the PNR action. The second set came later in the game with the Gin Kings choosing to run the same two-man game in hopes of protecting a 96-94 lead with around 2:24 to play.

The Execution

Both plays revolve around the same four players (Caguioa, Lowhorn, Abueva and McKines) and both actions have Lowhorn giving Caguioa a screen to his right. Let’s look at the critical points in each set.

In the first set, Abueva was able to go over to Lowhorn screen and stay with Caguioa, but both he and MacKines decided to cover the ball handler, giving Lowhorn an open lane which Caguioa immediately finds.


Both Abueva and McKines aren’t even looking at a rolling Lowhorn here.

In the second set, Lowhorn was able to set a better screen which Abueva couldn’t handle. McKines, now wary of Lowhorn’s threat as a roller, chooses to stay with the Ginebra big man, giving Caguioa all the space in the world to shoot.


No reason to give Caguioa that much space to shoot.

Watch the entire play below:

What did we Learn?

Read and adjust on defense: In truth, the two Ginebra pick and rolls shown above were pretty basic. In fact, Caguioa didn’t even put much pressure on the Alaska defense after using the screens since he chose to float around the perimeter instead of attacking the lane.  Both times, McKines should’ve read the situation better and adjusted accordingly whether it’s covering Lowhorn’s roll or stepping up to cover Caguioa.

Baracael goes away from the screen for an easy two

The Situation

Off a sideline out of bounds situation, Ginebra, with a 94-89 lead with 3:20 remaining go to a two man action with Baracael and Lohorn.

The Execution

With the floor clear for Lowhorn and Baracael to operate on the right side, Lowhorn elects to give a screen on Baracael’s left side. This gives Baracael two options: 1) Use the Lowhorn screen and go into the action nearer to the Alaska defense or 2) Use the now wide open right side of the floor.


Setting a screen to the left of Baracael leaves the entire right side open.

Baracael smartly chooses the latter, successfully beating Abueva off the dribble and scoring off the open lane to the basket.


Alaska does a good job recovering, but Baracael is able to get off a shot

Watch the entire play below:

 What did we Learn?

Deception: Just because there’s a screen doesn’t mean it has to be used. If there’s a better opportunity (in this case, there was), then go for it. If Baracael had used the Lowhorn screen and went left, he would’ve ran straight into a bunch of Alaska defenders (who covered this area well because of poor Ginebra spacing). Instead, Baracael sells the deception by allowing the play to develop, waiting for Lowhorn to set the screen before driving to the right.

Cyrus Baguio passes to Wendell McKines to seal the game

The Situation

Holding on to a 100-99 lead with 24 seconds left on the clock, Coach Luigi draws up a play for Casio and McKines to execute a pick and roll. But, Tenorio overplays the inbounds play, giving Casio an open lane to the basket.

The Execution

Seeing the open space, Casio immediately leaves Tenorio behind and drives middle. Once he gets to the free throw line, Caguioa leaves Baguio on the perimeter to help out on the Casio drive while Tenorio switches and recovers to body Baguio.


Casio at the free throw line with Caguioa leaving Baguio to cover him after Tenorio gables the inbounds pass

With Tenorio still slow to cover Baguio, Casio fires a pass to him. Baguio manages to coral the pass before going out of bounds with Tenorio now pressuring him in the corner.


Baguio catches a tough pass and gets trapped by a smaller Casio in the corner

Sensing the mismatch, Baguio starts posting-up Tenorio, slowly pushing him closer and closer into the paint. At the same time, McKines comes off a Thoss screen and spots up near the freethrow line, serving as a pressure release should Baguio need it.


Recognizing the mismatch, Baguio posts Casio up, while the other Alaska players space the floor.

Wilson who’s covering McKines is now being forced to either help on the Baguio post-up or stick to McKines. As Beguio continues on his way further into the post, two things happen at the same time, 1) Wilson decides to help on Baguio and 2) Abueva suddenly rushes into the paint, directly where McKines is standing, which leads to a pass from Baguio to Abueva who then converts the basket, stretching Alaska’s lead to 102-99 with 12 seconds left in the game.

Watch the entire play below:

What did we Learn?

Floor Spacing: Willie Wilson was placed in that really tough situation because Wendell McKines spaced the floor beautifully by waiting near the free throw line. The rest of the Aces also do a great job clearing out, with Thoss in the corner, while Abueva and Casio wait in the wings. Spacing the floor properly is the key to any basketball play as it allows for great passing opportunities, while continuously putting pressure on the defense.

The role match-ups play: This entire sequence was made possible because of the mismatch that Baguio had with the smaller Tenorio guarding him. Originally, this play wasn’t designed for Baguio to post up, but he ended up getting the ball because of the mismatch. Bottom line is, if you see a match-up on the floor that favors you, attack it early and often, make the defense regret their gamble or adjust their coverage (which might open up yet another mismatch).

Wendell McKines’ quick spin

The Situation

With the Aces down 80-72 early in the 4th quarter, Alaska immediately went to McKines off a sideline inbounds play to quickly get a bucket.

The Execution

Off the inbounds, the ball gets swung to Hontiveros who then enters the ball to McKines in the post. It happens too fast that I won’t even post screenshots.

Watch the entire play below:

What did we Learn?

Be unconventional: Think about how big men usually post up. When the ball gets entered to them in the post, they usually pause for half a second before executing their move. Defending McKines, Mamaril may have expected just that, instead, McKines started his spin move towards the baseline even before he got the ball. This caught Mamaril off-guard which resulted to an easy and-1 attempt for McKines. In basketball, there is a tendency to fall into conventions or expect certain norms. But, going against the grain and doing unexpected or unconventional things is also a great recipe for success.

Alaska looks for multiple options inside

The Situation

With Mamaril fouling out of the game, Ginebra had no choice but to stick the smaller Willie Wilson to guard Sonny Thoss. Recognizing this, Alaska gets the ball inside to Thoss, with Abueva and McKines looking to create more opportunities inside.

The Execution

Casio enters the ball into Thoss in the post with Abueva in the strong side corner, Baguio in the opposite wing and McKines roaming the paint.


Thoss gets the ball in the post with Abueva in the strong side corner.

Once Thoss gets the pass, Abueva then makes a normal looking clear out to the other side.


Abueva clearing out to the other side using the baseline

In the middle of his cut, Abueva suddenly screens Lowhorn (whose attention is consumed by the Thoss post-up). This is used to get McKines a mismatch with Baracael or an open look if the Ginebra defense fails to adjust.


Abueva suddenly screens Lowhorn in an attempt to free McKines to be an option for Thoss

After the screen, both Abueva and McKines present themselves to Thoss as potential pass targets. Notice how Thoss has just been biding his time, waiting for the play to unfold before he makes his move.


Thoss now has both McKines and Abueva as passing options

Seeing no other options, Thoss makes his move, draws the foul, splits his charities and sets up the Cyrus Baguio to Wendell McKines dagger we featured earlier.

Watch the entire play below:

 What did we Learn?

Option within an option: Coach Luigi Trillo drew up a very simple, but slick play here. Normally, these types of plays have the strong side player (in this case, Abueva) cut all the way to the other side to give Thoss the necessary room to operate. By giving Lowhorn a pick, Abueva suddenly turns this simple post-up play into a dynamic, multi-optioned set that took advantage of Alaska’s size advantage at this point of the game. If Abueva simply cut to the weak side, Thoss would’ve only had two options. Either he tries to score on the post or kick it out to Casio back out in the perimeter. Instead, Thoss now can pass to either McKines or Abueva on the post, Casio on the perimeter and Abueva again as he pops out to the free throw line late in the play or try to score by himself. The Abueva screen is just a simple wrinkle in this play, yet it completely transforms the play from one that involves two players to something that gives this Alaska team at least four options to choose from.

And there you have it! We hope you enjoyed this post and more importantly, learned something from it. Hopefully we can manage to squeeze in some more posts like this in the near future. In any case, feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!