Alaska is gunning their second win this conference against a Globalport team that has yet to impress this season. They’re a giant sign to those three teams (Kia, Blackwater, NLEX) of how difficult and long it is to build a winning team. Since joining the league in 2012-13, the Batang Piers have gone on to win just 13 of their first 69 games (0.188 W/L%). That’s the worst in the league over that time span.
Meanwhile, the Alaska Aces, since finally winning a championship in last year’s Commissioner’s Cup, have consistently fallen short of expectations, threading .500 for the better part of three conferences (15 wins and 17 losses since winning their championship) and have consistently bowed out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals. They’ve always been a middling offensive team, always hovering right around league average in terms of points per possession. But it’s their defense that’s usually the difference between them being another team and them being a contender.
That is why it is important for the team to approach this game like another stepping stone after taking a good step forward against an offensive juggernaut like the Beermen. Henry Walker, Alaska’s import for the Governor’s Cup, is not a defensive game changer. He’s a gunner that somehow transformed into a post passer extraordinaire in their opening game against the Beermen so he won’t be the difference maker (unlike their Commissioner’s Cup import, Robert Dozier). Instead becoming a good defensive team starts with the team. Let’s look at the keys of the game.
Finish those defensive possessions
Globalport is a team that can’t find good baskets. Their players lack the discipline to run sets well. That tends to botch up entire possessions at a time. They tend to play the type of basketball you see in recreation leagues: hectic, unorganized, chaotic. Defending their shots won’t be a problem – wall of the paint and their unorganized chaos usually never makes the right passes to generate the type of good shots that a pack-the-paint defense (like Alaska) concedes. However, due to Globalport’s chaos, they’re usually able to find creases during rebounding chess matches that allows them to grab a ton of offensive rebounds. Over the past two years, they’ve recorded offensive rebounding percentage – 31 percent so far this season – that are above league average (30 percent). Alaska’s defensive rebounding, normally one of Alaska’s greatest strength, will be put the test.
No freebies for imports
In addition to the chaos allowing Globalport to rebound a larger share of their misses, they also tend to draw a lot of fouls. Most of that was from their imports. Among locals, however, no one is much of a threat even supernova Romeo averages just 2.8 freebies per 36. The guy who comes closest to being a threat is Ronnie Matias (3.2 freebies per 36). So yes, Alaska only has to stop Globalport’s import, Alaska, on the other hand, gives up way too many free throws. Unlucky for them, Leroy Hickerson drew 17 free throws in his debut.
Post Passing Extraordinaire
Can Henry Walker continue to balance his offensive attack once again? Can a gunner REALLY stop gunning? Or was that because he was hindered by his hamstring?
Which begs the question: should Alaska re-hydrate Walker well enough? Or should they keep him de-hydrated enough to make him cramp but not to allow him to get out of the game?
I kid, I kid. But the point is, Alaska is an entirely different monster if they can somehow become even a good offensive team. Henry Walker could be key to that. His volume gunning from downtown (3 out 6 from downtown) and passing off the pinch post in Trillo’s version of the triangle will be key to that.
If Alaska wants to position themselves as contenders, then they have to win against teams that are clearly inferior to them. Globalport counts. They SHOULD win this game. Crazy things can happen. The key here is to minimize the possibility and the possible effect of these crazy things. If Alaska can do that, they’ll get the W. If they let Globalport do well on those few things they can actually do well (rebound off their misses, create chaos and get fouls), it’ll be a long night for the Aces.