Coming off of an embarrassing defeat to the lowly Meralco Bolts, the San Miguel Beermen resume their campaign against a revamped Ginebra San Miguel team who lost their last game as well. Both teams will be looking to bounce back from blowout matches and of course, the much anticipated match-up between the future faces of the PBA in June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter cannot be ignored, but before we get to that, let us first take a look at what the Beermen have to do to get back on the winning track.
Keys to the Game
Pressure and Denial
San Miguel will have to rely on pressure defense for this one as Ginebra will be dependent on getting that first post entry pass in to get into their triangle sets. The guards in particular have to display aggressive, in-your-face type defense not only to delay the opposing attack, but to hopefully generate some forced passes and transition opportunities. Looking at Ginebra’s splits, the blueprint set by Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee is pretty clear.
Ginebra San Miguel
|opp FB ATT||opp FB PTS||opp TOV PTS||TOV||TOV%||opp STL||opp STL%|
Part of the reason why Ginebra is the number 1 defensive team this conference is because they do a good job of limiting opponents’ fast breaks. Despite the change in system, they’ve also done well in limiting their turnovers. It is a completely different story in their two losses though as almost all those categories were doubled. They gave up a ton of transition baskets and were sloppier with their passing. Still without Chris Ross and likely Marcio Lassiter (no update yet on his check-up), it will be up to Sol Mercado (1.1 SPG) and company to lead the defense.
Pick Your Poison
With import Zaccheus Mason (22.3 points, 13.8 rebounds, 58.8 percent TS%) and rookie Greg Slaughter (15.8 points, 12.5 rebounds.56.5 percent TS%) manning the middle, San Miguel will be hard-pressed to find solutions defending them. As such, it comes down to picking what they should give up. Should they rely on single coverage or send down double-teams that could potentially open up opposing shooters? Reggie Williams and Arwind Santos have struggled to guard opposing imports all conference and Mason will not be an exception. It also won’t help if Japeth Aguilar (9 points, 4.7 rebounds) suddenly decides to break out in this game. They should probably send double-teams at Mason and live with any 3-point attempts. Curiously enough, Ginebra shot better from 3-point distance in their losses (43.8%, 7 makes, 16 attempts per game) compared to their wins (37.7%, 5.8 makes, 15.3 attempts). This may just be because they didn’t need it as much in their wins, with Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee having better defenses forcing them to shoot a bit more.
Fajardo will give you monster numbers no matter who is matched up against him. The question is whether his teammates will be there to help him carry the load, especially offensively as he will have his hands full protecting the paint. Williams will likely recover from his only bad game so far. The other locals, especially the starting unit, will have to show up as well, especially on defense where Fajardo will have his hands full protecting the paint.
The Kraken vs Gregzilla
Though I personally believe this match-up won’t be the deciding factor of the game, I don’t think there is anyone out there who is not excited about these two young giants FINALLY going head-to-head in an official PBA game. No more all-star games, no more tune-up matches, and most importantly, no more injuries. Hopefully, it will only be the first of many battles these two players will have for the foreseeable future.
For Fajardo, it will be the first time in a while that he will face a center that can match his size and strength. It will be very interesting to see how well he can play against a much improved rookie. If he can produce anywhere near his averages (21.9 points, 17.3 rebounds, 60.4 percent TS%), that will be one impressive feat.
As I mentioned, this is a must-win game for both teams as they look to strengthen their positions in the top 4. For San Miguel, it is an opportunity to test themselves against a very strong defensive unit. If their defense can at least hold on and the locals step up, they can come out with a wire-to-wire victory.