The Meralco Bolts have been enjoying a 4 game stretch of good performance (sans the late game meltdown against Barako Bull) and will try to carry on that momentum in their next game. Coming off an impressive all-around outing against Talk ‘N Text, the Bolts will be taking on the Alaska Aces.
For all the fuss that has been made about GlobalPort‘s hot start as a three-point bombing juggernaut and Barako Bull’s dominance, I feel that little has been said about the level of play that the Alaska Aces has displayed during the past month.
The Aces and their frantic pressing system account for the second best offense (108.2 offRtg) and the best defense in the PBA as of today (97.8 defRtg).
Their highly rated offense is a product of them being good at making shots. The Aces currently have the league’s best eFG% after Talk ‘N Texts’ poor outing against the Bolts at 50.8%. Like Talk ‘N Text (who are now at 50.3 eFG%), the Aces just simply hit the shots that matter. They are hitting league-highs 38.5% from the three-point line and 79.5% from the free throw line. Basketball is simple: if you make your shots, you win.
One other thing that drives the Aces offense is their defense. The Aces are the best at forcing turnovers, leading the PBA with 17.4 opponent TOV%. Alex Compton’s frantic pressing causes opposing teams to turn the ball over, which sets the Aces offence up for easy shots in transition when the opposing defense has yet to settle.
So once again, the Meralco Bolts will have quite a lot in their hands. It would be a bit overly optimistic to expect the Bolts to replicate their 64.0 eFG% shooting performance against the Texters, so they might want to look elsewhere for their game plan emphasis.
Their rebounding has been key to their recent success, as we have mentioned in past pregame primers that the Bolts have yet to lose in this conference when they rebound at least 49.4% of their rebounds. However, the Aces are the best defensive rebounding team in the league (74.7 DRB%) so that might not be as easy as it sounds.
What the Bolts could use as a focus point is to maintain what they have been doing extremely well, and that is taking care of the ball. The Bolts still hold on to the league’s lowest turnover rate at 11.6%. If they continue to be able to steadily control the ball, it could disrupt the Ace’s flow which is based primarily on forcing the ball out of opponent’s hands.
This match up can be viewed as a classic tale of extreme opposites colliding, where the sharpest sword (or the best turnover forcing team) goes to the test against the strongest shield (or the best team at not committing turnovers).
It might just come down to a small hairline crack in each team’s respective expertise to break the team down completely, which makes this game a can’t-miss.
TV: LIVE ON TV5, AKSYONTV, AND FOX SPORTS
RADIO: RADYO 92.3 NEWS FM AND DZSR 918 KHZ AM
TIME: 4:15 PM
ARENA: SMART ARANETA COLISEUM
Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sport5.PH; Mark Cristino, PinoyExchange.com (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)