Meralco has simply been on a roll as they’ve done very well on both ends. They are currently second in offense (103.2 points per 100 possessions) and fifth in defense (94.8 points per 100 possessions). They’ve also done this as the second slowest team in terms of pace, an interesting change for a team that relied a lot on fast break opportunities last conference. They’re not a great field goal shooting team but more than make up for it by shooting the three well (34.7% on just 19 attempts), taking care of the ball (11 TOs per game), and getting to the line (free throw rate of 27.3%). All of those are tops in the league. Fittingly enough, they also defend those areas and force turnovers very well. That will pose a lot of problems for a San Miguel that has struggled both shoot the ball (20.5% on 28 attempts from deep) and defend it (36.2% on just 11 attempts). They’re also below average in defending the interior, giving up way too many free throws and points in the paint. That will have to change for them as they need to force the Bolts off the arc and into the midrange area instead.
Gary David is definitely the local to watch as he’s been averaging 19.2 points. He’s also been bombing away with his 42.3% clip from beyond the arc. The more immediate concern is definitely import Josh Davis. He’s averaging 23.2 points on a so-so 42.9 FG% but gets to the line 12 times. It’s his other numbers that have been eye-opening: 19.6 rebounds, 3.8 steals, and 1.6 blocks. He’s going to be a tough cover on both ends.
Speaking of imports, all eyes will be on the debut of two-time Best Import, Arizona Reid, who will look to provide a spark for the winless Beermen. With his ability to play both forward positions and play inside and out, he should be a better fit for the team. His defensive ability will be tested as the shortest import in the conference. But his quickness and experience should prove valuable.
San Miguel has to win and win now if they want to make it into the playoffs. They need that winning streak to start now. It’s gonna be an uphill battle but with their improved performance last game, they should be able to give themselves a chance to win this one.
Alex Cabagnot has been confirmed to be out for two weeks due to a hamstring tear he’s been playing with since last conference. Arwind Santos is still unsure as he had an MRI on a knee contusion he suffered last time out.
Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports5