The San Miguel Beermen will look to carry the momentum from their first All-Filipino title in 14 years (first title since 2011) as they finally open their 2015 Commissioner’s Cup campaign. Their first opponents are the newly christened Kia Carnival (0-2), not a particularly tough team even with their import.
Though Kia has been average on the offensive end, scoring 91.7 points per 100 possessions (ranks fifth out of nine teams that have played), it’s their defense that’s been problematic, giving up 101.3 points per 100, good for worst in the league so far. A huge part of the problem has to be their offensive execution. Though they top the league in assists, they also cough up the rock the most – 35 turnovers leading to 30 points total. Their transition defense has been awful as well, giving up 29 fastbreak points. That has to bode well for a pesky San Miguel team that finished second in defense last conference.
What they do have to keep an eye on is hulking 7-3 center Peter John Ramos. So far, he’s been monstrous, norming 37.5 points on 63.3 TS%, 20.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2 blocks per game. He has simply been a tower of power for the Carnival, doing almost everything for the team. Though he’s extremely slow, he knows how to use his height along with his soft touch to score around the rim. He’s also so tall that he can just see over everyone to find an open man. But Kia’s strength is also their weakness as the locals haven’t exactly stepped up to support him. If they can’t get him the ball consistently, their offense crumbles. It doesn’t help that they only shoot 22.2% from deep. It will be interesting to see if Coach Leo Austria will decide to double Ramos down low as he hasn’t really relied on double teams, confident enough in his players’ one-on-one defense.
Speaking of bigs, San Miguel will debut their import Ronald Roberts, Jr. After their original choice, 6-9 center Arinze Onuaku, decided to stay in the NBA D-League, they went ahead and tapped the former St. Joseph’s Hawk. At 6-8 and 220 pounds, Roberts is an extremely athletic power forward. In fact, most of his points come from around the rim through dunks and putbacks. There is definitely a slight concern with him and Fajardo pairing down low as he hasn’t shown much of an offensive game aside from basic post moves. With so many weapons though, San Miguel doesn’t need him to carry the offensive load. His value is really on the other end. He has been described as a very good post defender despite his lack of size, able to use his strength well on the block. He also has the lateral quickness to keep up with bigs on the perimeter. That is what they really need out of him: the versatility to guard both the powerful giants (like Ramos and Richard Howell) and speedy forwards (like CJ Leslie). He also has a relentless motor on the glass, especially in pursuing his team’s misses. All eyes will definitely be on how he fits in and complements both Fajardo and Santos.
This will also mark the debut of newly acquired big man, Jay-R Reyes, who came in a trade involving Justin Chua and Barako Bull Energy’s Dorian Pena. He’s expected to bring added toughness and defense to the frontcourt rotation. He hasn’t played all that much for Ginebra San Miguel last conference, but playing for his first PBA coach once more could bring out the best in him like what happened with Ronald Tubid.
This should be an easy game for San Miguel, with the key factors being how they defend PJ Ramos and how their new big men mesh with the team. As long as they don’t experience any kind of championship hangover, they should grab this game and start their renewed campaign on a high note.
Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports5