For their next game, the San Miguel Beermen travel all the way to Cagayan de Oro to face one of the cellar-dwellers this conference, the Meralco Bolts. The Bolts themselves are just coming off of a loss that saw them score only 67 points, their lowest point total so far this conference and 2nd lowest league-wide. They just can’t seem figure it out as they only have 1 win in 6 tries. Of course, like their game against Globalport, San Miguel is more than likely to make it harder than it has to be. Having said that, these are my keys to the game.
Keys to the Game
Don’t give up easy looks
Even with returning import Mario West, local scorer Gary David, and a surprise performance by Cliff Hodge, Meralco still struggles mightily in scoring the ball, only averaging 86.7 points per game. Part of the reason they struggle is because they don’t get a lot of easy opportunities. (the following table only shows data from 5 of their 6 games as the boxscore for their game against San Mig Coffee didn’t list the following information)
|FB PTS||2CH PTS||TOV PTS|
They don’t score a lot on the break, they don’t convert on offensive putbacks, and they don’t really force many turnovers. As such, San Miguel has to keep them to their averages. Their transition defense, defensive rebounding, and ability to take care of the ball have to be good. In other words, they have to play smart and disciplined, although that is something that has been anything but consistent this conference.
This pertains to Reggie Williams. Yes, he is still producing at a very efficient rate. But what’s been missing is his aggressiveness to get into the paint and get to the line.
1st 2 games
Last 4 games
His two games were very good as he and Fajardo would wreck the paint and generate more than half the team’s freethrows. But the last 4 games saw a sharp decline in his attempts. In that stretch, he hasn’t attempted more than 5. This, in effect, has brought down his percentages as well. Part of the reason is that he is the best floor spacer on the team, resulting in him hanging out in the perimeter, but it would benefit the team a lot more if he was attacking once again, especially on drive-and-kicks or pick-and-rolls.
Make it simple
Too many times San Miguel was caught either taking too long to set up their halfcourt sets or just mindlessly passing along the perimeter. For a team that relies so much on outscoring their opponents, they just have to make it simple. For one thing, Fajardo will be going up against a relatively small Meralco frontline. It behooves the guards to get the ball to Fajardo early and often, which entails good entry passes, something they have curiously struggled with all conference long. They also have to reward him whenever he is able to seal his man. Otherwise, they can always go for pick and rolls with either Sol Mercado or Williams. The one thing they have to remember is to play inside out and build from there.
Arwind Santos vs Cliff Hodge
Hodge has been having a fantastic conference so far. Just last conference, he simply looked like a role player, but he is now making the transition into one of the top options on his team.
Almost all his numbers made a huge jump, with the main difference seen in: playing time, 3-point shooting, and offensive rebounding. He has pretty much gone for the Kevin Love-mold in hustling and marksmanship. From not making any of his 20 three-point attempts, he is now the 6th best shooter in the league (according to Inquirer.net, with minimum 7 3-pointers made), which helped him more than double his previous point average. He also made himself into a threat on the offensive glass, jumping more than 10 percentage points in OREB%. He is exactly the kind of player the Arwind Santos/Williams tandem will have a hard time dealing with. More than the points, they have to make sure he does not go wild on the glass and create even more scoring opportunities for a struggling offense. If Santos can keep up his steady play, he should be able to contain him.
This is a win in my eyes, whether by a blowout or another close game. San Miguel will have to take note of the quotients however if they want to land in the Top 4 as they have not had a single double-digit win, which could cost them if they end with a tie with a team like Air21 or Rain or Shine. Every win and every point matters in this stretch.