The San Miguel Beermen will finally get their chance at revenge as they face the Air21 Express, the same team that upset them in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup. With the eight playoff teams pretty much decided, all that’s left is positioning. Both these teams are still jockeying for spots, especially in the top 4. For the Beermen, they must win this game to even have a chance at one of the twice-to-beat advantages, especially with their already poor quotient. Of course, it won’t be that easy as they are coming off of two bad losses. So what should they do to grab the win?
Keys to the Game
Quicken the Pace
With San Miguel’s defense still as unreliable as ever, they will again have to rely on generating a lot of points to compensate. Their offensive sets haven’t been that effective either, so they have to be able to push the pace off of both forced turnovers and missed shots. Fortunately for them, Air21 gave up 11.3 fastbreak points and 16.4 turnover points so far, something the Beermen should take advantage of. They also don’t like to run as much (only 9.9 FB points on 8.5 FB attempts) as they rely heavily on a bruising frontcourt of Dominique Sutton and Asi Taulava.
Take Care of the Rock
Much of Air21’s success has been because of Sutton (24.9 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 52.2 TS percent) and Taulava’s (18.1 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 50.5 percent TS) production in the paint. Again, Arwind Santos and Reggie Williams will have a hard time trying to even match up against another physical import. As such, they should focus on containing everyone else, Taulava included.
Looking at his win/loss splits, he is much like a barometer for the team in terms of his scoring. His rebounding numbers don’t really fluctuate much but it’s his shooting efficiency that suffers greatly, especially in his ability to score inside the paint. In those 3 losses, he went up against quality defenders in Greg Slaughter, Noy Baclao, and Marc Pingris. June Mar Fajardo will have to follow suit and make life a lot harder for the ageless one.
Take Care of the Glass
Air21 is a pretty good rebounding team, especially on the offensive glass (14.9 2nd chance points, 36.5 percent ORB%). They have also been successful in limiting opposing teams to just 8 second chance points and an offensive rebounding percentage of 20 percen. Aside from the Sutton-Taulava tandem, they have rookie Eric Camson and former FEU standout Aldrech Ramos to thank for that. San Miguel will have to watch the glass in this one, especially in the event that they successfully force missed shots. It’s an aspect that Air21 took advantage in their previous games last conference and they can’t allow that to happen for the fourth straight game.
The Kraken vs The Rock
From Slaughter to Taulava, Fajardo faces the second of his main challengers to the BPC award. Personally, this is one match-up I have been waiting for as Fajardo can look to get a measure of revenge as he was vastly outplayed the last time they met. Taulava will likely employ the same tactic as Slaughter in trying to pull Fajardo out of the paint with midrange jumpers. His post defense as well as his ability to cover ground will definitely be tested in this one. Hopefully, he already learned from the last game.
Williams will probably look to bounce back from 2 bad performances. With his help, some support from the locals, and enough defense late, San Miguel will have a chance to pull out of this close game with a victory. And with the playoffs already next week, they can go into it with a little momentum to push them forward.