The San Miguel Beermen (3-7) are back in action against the GlobalPort Batang Pier (4-6) as they get one last chance to keep their playoff hopes alive. Contrary to what I thought last week, they are still in the playoff hunt as six different teams are still vying for the last three slots. Of course, their fate isn’t entirely in their hands anymore so they have to take care of business against another team trying to qualify. The Beermen are in for a tough one due to the fact that they have to win by AT LEAST 15 to avoid elimination. Any less and they book their tickets to Boracay.
Owing to their record, GlobalPort have been average in most areas: eighth in ORTG, sixth in effective FG%, seventh in TOV%, fifth in ORB% and ninth in freethrow rate. Curiously enough, they are the third best defensive team, likely due to opponents having an eFG% of just 42.7%. They also do a good job of keeping them off the line and finishing defensive possessions by grabbing defensive rebounds. San Miguel will certainly test those strengths with their recent run of getting to the charity stripe and league-best offensive rebounding. They shouldn’t have any problems setting up their offense and generating points. What they will struggle with is adjusting their league-worst defense. The same problems they had against Talk ‘N Text are likely to occur here: containing dribble penetration and forcing guys away from the middle of the floor. At this point, it’s just a matter of effort and discipline. They have to show the same mindset they had last conference and not over-rely on June Mar Fajardo as the last line of defense, especially with his need to preserve fouls. With their reputation of losing big leads, they will have to have that killer mindset as well.
Speaking of Fajardo, he’ll certainly have a tough time against former Laker Derrick Caracter and his near-300 pound frame. The extended rest has been good to Fajardo so far and he will need that quickness advantage in the post. He will need to continue his run of inspired play.
One other player to watch out for is the conference’s leading scorer, Terrence Romeo. Not just an inefficient gunner anymore, he has shown the maturity to pick and hit better shots and has also shown better court vision. Luckily, the Beermen have several wingmen with the height and experience to deal with his explosive play. With Stanley Pringle likely to miss his third straight game due to a right ankle sprain, San Miguel can focus almost all of its perimeter defense on containing Romeo’s scoring.
The basketball gods are seemingly smiling down on the Beermen, with wins by Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine keeping them in contention. They just need a few more chips to fall and do their part in blowing the Batang Pier away. If they want to save their campaign, they have to make the most of this one last chance.
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TIME: 3:00 PM
ARENA: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM
Featured Image Credit: Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports5