After that overtime thriller, the 1-6 San Miguel Beermen will try to gain a bit of momentum before the All-Star break as they face the Barako Bull Energy. After a surprising 3-0 start, they’ve come down to earth somewhat, losing 3 of their past 4 games for a 4-3 record.
What’s interesting about them is that they are both the best defensive team (91.7 points per 100 given up) and the worst offensive team (91.6 points per 100). San Miguel will have to contend with 7-foot-1 behemoth Solomon Alabi. He currently leads the league in both rebounds (20.6) and blocks (3.9). He’s not too shabby on the offensive end either: 23.4 points on a 50% clip from the field and 71.9% from the line. June Mar Fajardo will have another tough task ahead of him. I think we all remember what happened the last time he went up against someone taller than 7-feet. There are two things San Miguel can take advantage of. One, Barako is number one in the league in turnovers (miscues on 15.6% of their possessions) and gives up 16.3 turnover points, including 19.7 in their last 3 games. Since San Miguel came back from 17 down last time due to forcing mistakes, they might do well to utilize the press in spurts. Second, their three-point shooting has been bad, which used to be their hallmark last season. After a 32.9% clip in their first 2 games, they’ve only shot 17.1% in their last 5, with 22.2% being their highest. The Beermen would do well to pack the paint a little more against Alabi but they also don’t want to help them recover their shooting touch. Barako’s strength has always been the possibility of anyone blowing up, thanks to the hoshpod of talent.
The dominating narrative will definitely be their first match versus Sol Mercado, who was a vital cog to their 10-2 elimination record last conference. He’s trying to have a resurgence of sorts, currently averaging 12.8 points, 3.8 boards, and 4.8 assists in 4 games. Though he and the Beermen are on good terms, there’s always something to prove. Two other players to watch out for are Chico Lanete (who won the first Player of the Week honors this conference) and JC Intal.
At this point, every game is a tough game for San Miguel, especially with the short one-day layoff. But if they can build on their fourth quarter performance last game and watch out for any Barako surprises, they should be able to build some sort of momentum and grab the win.
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TIME: 7:00 PM
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Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports5