In their bid to get out of the bottom of the standings, the San Miguel Beermen (1-4) face the equally struggling NLEX Road Warriors (1-4). On one hand, the Beermen are looking to build on their strong performance against the Meralco Bolts on Saturday. On the other, the Road Warriors will try to right the ship so to speak as they’ve had a disappointing start to the season. Out of their four losses so far, one was a blowout and the other three close losses while their only win came against the Blackwater Elite.
Curiously enough, though they sport a losing record, they are still the best offensive team in the league with a 105.6 offensive rating. They are an average shooting team (45.5 eFG%, fifth), but make up for it by taking care of the ball (11.2 TOV%, second), getting offensive boards (33.2 ORB%, third), and making the most of their freethrows (25.6 attempts at 78.6%). With those kinds of numbers, it’s a wonder why they’ve been struggling. It’s mainly the result of two things. One, import Al Thornton has pretty much been a one-man army. With the exception of KG Canaleta, no other local sports an above average PER. In fact, no other local is averaging double-digits with just two players at 9.5+. He also accounts for almost half of their freethrows. Secondly, they are also the second-worst defensive team, giving up 107 points per 100 possessions. Opponents shoot 58.3% at the rim and 38.5% beyond the arc against them.
For San Miguel, they can certainly exploit those defensive weaknesses, especially with their work inside the arc. The biggest hurdles will definitely be Asi Taulava and Thornton but June Mar Fajardo has been hot ever since their rematch against the Alaska Aces. He’s also found much success against burly Fil-Tongan. With Thornton likely occupied with Arizona Reid on the perimeter, that will allow Fajardo enough space to work. Speaking of Reid, he’ll face his first big test against the much taller and bulkier Thornton. He’s not a typical back-to-the-basket forward but is certainly much better at creating his shot than someone like Josh Davis. Reid certainly has the speed and upper body strength to match but it will be interesting to see how the Beermen as a whole defend.
As long as they build on and continue to execute like last Saturday, they stand a good chance of grabbing this one and carrying momentum into the rest of the conference.
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TIME: 4:15 PM
ARENA: CUNETA ASTRODOME
Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports5