The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers kept their Grand Slam hopes alive after dispatching the mighty San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals. Now, standing in their way is a very familiar foe, the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters. In a rematch of last conference’s Finals, the Mixers and Tropang Texters square-off once more in what is expected to be another classic match-up. What do the Mixers have to do to gain that important 1-0 lead against the solid Tropang Texters squad?
Keys to the Game
DEFEND THE ARC
In their game against the Tropang Texters in the eliminations (wherein they lost), the Mixers gave up a lot of three-point shots and it lead to their downfall. They allowed TNT 25 three-point shot attempts with the Tropang Texters converting 52% of it led by their import Paul Harris with 9/13 makes from the arc. The Mixers should not let this happen once again as TNT is such a great three-point shooting team. The numbers back it up as they are one of the top teams in the league (eliminations) in shooting the long ball at 37.7% (10.2 makes per 27 attempts) per game. The Mixers must be cautious of kick-out passes of TNT to their shooters (De Ocampo, Canaleta, Reyes, and Fonacier to name a few) and close out on them well.
CONTROL THE BOARDS
The Mixers have been out-rebounded in most of their games this conference. They must be able to find a solution to this problem soon as they are facing an offensive machine in TNT that can’t be allowed more possessions by virtue of offensive rebounds. TNT held an 18-6 advantage in terms of 2nd chance points in their encounter with SMC in the eliminations. Marqus Blakely grabbed a game-high 22 rebounds in that game and for the Mixers to win the rebounding battle, he must need all the help he can get from Marc Pingris, Joe Devance, and Ian Sangalang off the bench.
KEEP ON STEPPING UP
A recurring storyline this conference is the dip in the production of the Mixers’ starters and how their bench steps up to save the game for them. This is what happened once more in their last game against the Beermen. To improve the Mixers’ chance in this game, their bench must continue to step up their game and hope that their starters get their groove early. Best case scenario for the Mixers would be that their starters get it going early on and their bench pound it even more as soon as they check into the game. If the Mixers show this lethal form against the Tropang Texters, they would be tough to beat.
Key Match-up: Marc Pingris vs. Ranidel De Ocampo
Both key players from the Gilas Pilipinas squad, Marc Pingris and Ranidel De Ocampo face each other one more time for this semis match-up. Each player brings a different skill set to the table with Ping more of an inside rugged operator while Ranidel’s more of an outside finesse type of player. It would be interesting to see who would provide the bigger impact in this game for their respective teams.
PJ Simon is still doubtful to play in this one and this is a huge blow to the Mixers as he was one of their primary weapon against TNT in the Finals last conference bullying smaller guards in the post. However, I still expect this to be a tightly-contested game with the outcome being decided in the dying minutes of the game. If the Mixers can just keep it close and make the key plays down the stretch, they could be able to take this game away from the Tropang Texters and have a 1-0 lead in this series.