After a helter-skelter of a game against Rain or Shine, San Miguel Beermen will come into today’s game looking to go on a winning streak. The problem? They’ll be facing the grandslam-seeking San Mig Super Coffee Mixers in a rematch of last year’s Governor’s Cup finalists. It has only been a week since they won their 3rd straight championship but they are far from experiencing any sort of championship hangover. What do the Beermen need to do to overcome them?
Keys to the Game
With Tim Cone expected to rest his older players for much of the elimination round, the onus will be on both the coaches and players to pace themselves a bit better. In San Mig’s previous game against Barako Bull, aside from import Marqus Blakely, no other player logged more than 30 minutes of action. Reggie Williams and June Mar Fajardo played heavy minutes in their last game against Rain or Shine, logging 45 and 42 minutes respectively. We have already witnessed them both being gassed at different times. If this game goes down to the wire, the Beermen might find themselves on tired legs vs. the extended rest of San Mig’s top guys. They have to avoid that scenario as much as possible.
Inside-Out > Outside-In
As I noted in my postgame analysis of their game against Rain or Shine, San Miguel will have to remember that their advantage will always be inside the paint. They have the slashers and of course, Fajardo down low. Many times, they find themselves just passing along the perimeter, unable to just get a good pass in to Fajardo, who will always have good positioning against his defender. This devolves to a lot of 1-on-1 play as well. Hopefully Fajardo’s career night reminds them of what their biggest advantage. If he can have another monster game, all the better for the Beermen.
Contain Blakely’s Energy
With the return of Mrqus Blakely, San Miguel will be facing a bundle of energy that will be hard to stop. They have to stop Blakely from wreaking havoc inside the paint. In his 1st game, he only registered 10 points but had a monstrous 24 rebounds to go with it (8 offensive). That kind of play just generates more possessions, attempts, and freethrows for the Mixers. San Miguel’s collective bigs will have to match that energy, however impossible it may seem.
Chris Ross vs. PJ Simon
PJ Simon is probably one of the most consistent and dangerous players in the PBA. A midrange assassin through and through, he can score on pull-ups, one-handers, and fadeaways. There have been multiple games where it seemed as though he just couldn’t miss. He can start the game hot and end the game hot as well. He will definitely have to be checked if the Beermen stand to win this game. Luckily, the Beermen have Chris Ross’ in-your-face defense to bother Simon. He is also strong enough not to be bullied in the post. If he can force him to miss a few shots and force steals, that will go a long way in helping his squad.
San Miguel will face another gritty, grind-it-out game as it tries to take the clear advantage throughout the game. If Williams and Fajardo dominate the same way, the Beermen will find themselves pulling out of this one with a huge win over the defending champions and enjoying a modest 2-game winning streak.