The San Miguel Beermen come into Game Three with all the momentum. A blowout victory and a come-from-behind win can do that to you. Meanwhile, Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton is sure to have had many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to top the San Miguel juggernaut. He might have had the gameplan he needed in Game Two until Leo Austria and his wards blew it up in the final three minutes. Luckily for both of them, they have a two-day break to rest and prepare.
One constant by San Miguel in two games has been the lulls in their offensive in the middle quarters, usually because of their threes suddenly missing or falling back on isolation plays. They’ll have to remember that they are hardest to defend when they’re making quick passes and ball reversals. They can’t be too predictable especially with Alaska’s defense and propensity to run in transition off turnovers or badly missed shots. Of course, all of this isn’t much of a problem as long as their defense is consistently there.
And defense will have to be the focus on this one. Despite Alaska’s scoreless run at the end of Game Two, their offense started humming. They relentlessly attacked the paint thanks to a lot of pick and roll, interior passing and backdoor cuts. They also burned San Miguel a bit by passing off double teams. The Beermen’s awareness and communication on that end has to be better, especially when Fajardo goes to double the PnR or the post. The rotations have to be crisp.
In terms of individual match-ups, San Miguel will have to find better or quicker ways to get Fajardo the ball. Alaska’s shifting zone and Sonny Thoss‘ tough denial defense just made it hell for him to even catch the rock. The offense is at its best when it runs through him and that contributed to their stagnant attack. They started rolling again once he got the ball consistently. Adding in some more pick and roll play with Alex Cabagnot should help free him up. Fajardo will have to be stronger defensively as well, especially against Thoss’ craftiness. Arizona Reid has to continue his run of good defense on Romeo Travis, who’s shooting just 32.6% from the field. He’ll have to keep him off the line as well. Offensively, ball movement and good shot selection are key.
San Miguel will need to watch out for the tandem of Chris Banchero and Calvin Abueva as well, both of whom posed big problems with their combination of physicality, hustle, and defense. Curiously, they did not play through the dying minutes of game two, something that should change here.
Again, San Miguel just has to stick with the gameplan. They have to trust the system, their coach, and each other. As long as they keep executing on both ends like they did in the first two games, they should see themselves with a commanding 3-0 series lead.
TV: LIVE ON TV5, AKSYONTV AND LIVE SPORTS 1
RADIO: RADYO 92.3 NEWS FM AND DZSR 918 KHZ AM
TIME: 5:00 PM
ARENA: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM
Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan and Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports5