One thing about numbers is that in the deepest darkest hours, if you look the right places, you will find hope.
The Meralco Bolts aren’t in the best of shape heading into the Governor’s Cup playoffs. In back-to-back losses against KIA and Rain or Shine, Meralco had a nice lead in both games and eventually lost it. Their four most recent victories came against two teams that are out of the playoffs, one team that was a Joshua Webb/Japeth Aguilar three away from making the playoffs, and another team that is struggling to figure out its hierarchy.
The Bolts ended the Governor’s cup with a 102.4 offensive rating which is 0.2 lower than the league average, ending up at third worst in the PBA. It looks bad, but at least they are hanging around the average right?
Not really. You look at KIA and Blackwater’s offensive rating (92.1 and 91.0, respectively) and you realize that Meralco is hovering around the league average only because the two expansion teams are anchoring it down. Make no mistake, the Bolts offense has been really bad this conference. Their bad offense just stems from the same problem: they don’t have a consistent offensive option to offset Andre Emmett from his scoring duties.
Emmett is one hell of a scorer but if you’ve watched him enough, you’ll see that he is one hell of a facilitator as well. He knows that he can draw the defense towards him and he is really good at passing out of pressure. But that all goes to waste if you pass to guys that can’t finish. In the Rain or Shine loss, I counted at least four brilliant passes from Emmett that Reynel Hugnatan couldn’t finish (not to single out Hugnatan, just to raise an example).
The Beermen are once again one of the best offensive team in the PBA, after a down conference in the Commissioner’s Cup. They ran through an eight-game winning streak before losing to the Alaska Aces in the final showdown (which could very well be a Finals preview). They have an offensive rating of 107.4 (second in the league) and armed with the best big man in Junemar Fajardo and a slew of three-point shooters to surround him.
The Bolts look like they don’t have much a chance against the Beermen. They don’t have the lockdown defense to keep them on the ground. Junemar will have his way against Meralco’s small front court. They don’t have the offensive firepower to outscore them completely… or do they?
Numbers can give you hope (may they be false or not is a different matter). San Miguel ended conference play with an 8-3 record. Aside from the Alaska Aces lost, the two other teams that beat the Beermen were KIA…and Meralco. Out of the seven other teams in the playoffs, going by this statistic alone, the Bolts are tied for having the best chance to beat the Beermen!
But it will be hard. The last time that the Bolts came out victorious, it was simply because they shot the lights out that day going for 58.9 eFG%. Other than that, they had problems handling the ball (17.2% turnover rate), they couldn’t keep the Beermen off the boards (Beermen 31.3 ORB%), and they kept sending the Kraken to the line (15 times). In any normal game, that would have been a blowout.
To beat the Beermen this time around, the Bolts will need to have someone else to take up the scoring load. In their last matchup, they got Gary David scoring 23 points of 10/13 shooting added along with 11 points from Rey Guevarra as well. They will need someone to come up like that in this game, if they want to prolong their season for at least another game.
Let’s see how it goes.
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Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports 5