Barangay Ginebra is coming off a win against Globalport, scoring at will and dominating the rebounding battle. It was an impressive win considering the Kings had 21 turnovers in their first game playing with the triangle offense under Coach Jeff Cariaso. Now the league’s crowd favorites must improve from their previous performance to win against a tough Meralco team who dropped their first two assignments in close battles that could’ve gone either way.
In such a short conference, this game is a must win for the Bolts if they want to enter the playoffs and possibly earn a twice to beat advantage that’s available only for the top four teams. As such, Ginebra needs to be wary as Meralco will play with a sense of urgency, if not desperation in this game.
Keys of the Game
Stop Terrence Williams!
Almost everyone knows that Terrence Williams is a trigger happy type of player. In just his second game in the PBA, Meralco import Terrence Williams has already taken 29 3pt attempts, making just 7-of-29 (24.1 percent). But that doesn’t mean he can’t explode and take Ginebra by surprise. Against Barako Bull Energy Cola, they only lost by a point despite Williams shooting 4-out-of-20 (20 percent) from three point distance. In their losing cause against Talk N’ Text, the NBA veteran had a much more efficient game. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists much to the delight of Meralco Coach Ryan Gregorio. This might be a sign that Williams is finally getting his groove and slowly adapting to the PBA style of play.
Ginebra could just put their import Zaccheus Mason against Williams whenever both players are on the court. Mason’s tough and gritty defense should put Williams in check and prevent him from ever getting his touch behind the arc. The Meralco reinforcement has also shown that he can score from the post if needed, but Z. Mason’s bigger frame and defensive awareness will put him in a tough situation and he might be forced to settle for perimeter shots. The Kings can call on Japeth Aguilar and Chris Ellis to defend Williams if Mason is not available. Both Aguilar and Ellis have the length and agility to mark Williams and prevent him from getting an open look to the basket.
Let Gregzilla Go To Work
Greg Slaughter crushed Globalport’s frontline in their first game with his unstoppable post moves and size advantage inside and there’s no reason he can’t replicate that feat against Meralco. The no. 1 pick of this year’s draft will be up against a pair of experienced and wise big men in Danny Ildefonso and Reynel Hugnatan. Both have years of play in their arsenal and will use every bit of their knowledge to try and outwit a much bigger but younger Greg Slaughter. Danny I, a many time all-star and former MVP, has shown that he still has a lot left in the tank, While Hugnatan’s veteran moves has taken younger big men such as June Mar Fajardo by surprise.
Ginebra should trust Slaughter and try to give him the ball whenever they feel that he has the advantage and in the right position. Slaughter also needs to crash the boards and give his team extra possessions in the form of offensive rebounds. This will be easy considering he has the height advantage against his opponents. His performance will undoubtedly be a huge factor if Ginebra hopes to win this game.
Barangay Ginebra will be playing with the triangle offense for just the second time and this unfamiliarity is the excuse for the 21 turnovers that they committed in their first game. Even Coach Jeff Cariaso took the massive turnovers in stride, arguing that it’s a part of the learning process.
But they cannot hope to win against a better team like Meralco whilst making 20+ errors. The Bolts can and will take advantage of Ginebra’s errors whenever they can and hope to outrun Ginebra in transition. It’s up to Ginebra now to try to protect the ball and make more accurate passes. In a short conference where every win counts, they need to get adjusted with the triangle as soon as possible. It’s not every night that they will face GBP (no offense GBP fans), but they will soon face powerhouse teams like Rain or Shine or San Mig Coffee Mixers who thrive in their opponents mistakes. The sooner they learn the triangle, the better. This will make or break not only Ginebra’s match against Meralco but their whole conference.
Mark Caguioa vs Gary David
In an import laden conference, it’s up to the locals to provide the much needed scoring support in order for their team to win. Both Caguioa and David are the known gunners for their team. The performance of both players will certainly be a big factor in the game. Who will score more? Will El Granada explode and score 20+ points like he always does when he gets hot? Or will The Spark provide firepower enough for Ginebra to win this game?
I think this will be a high scoring game with no team gaining the upper hand from the 1st to 3rd quarter before Williams runs out of bullets and Ginebra pulls away late in the game with the locals providing support to Z-Mason.