It was another poor showing by the San Miguel Beermen, falling to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 95-82. This contest was almost an exact replica of their previous game against the Kia Carnival. From the opening tip, Mike Dunigan and Greg Slaughter repeatedly scored inside the paint. Not only that, but their transition attack was working as well. Meanwhile, the Beermen had to bleed for their points and found themselves down by as much as 13 in the second period. They managed to climb back from that deficit and even took a 1-point lead in the fourth quarter. That proved to their last gasp however as Ginebra clamped down defensively, even taking their biggest lead of the game at 16, before eventually coming away with the win.

Key Stats

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Everything seemingly clicked for Ginebra, leading in almost every major statistical category. They shot the ball better, got to the line a lot more (34-18 edge in freethrow attempts), converted on turnover points (21-17), feasted in transition (13-8 fastbreak points), and dominated the interior (60-30 points in the paint). Heck, even San Miguel’s 23-14 advantage in offensive rebounds didn’t translate and those 11 blocked shots did nothing to deter Ginebra’s big men. Almost everything that could’ve gone wrong for the Beermen happened in this one. They didn’t help themselves either with the lack of energy and execution.

A look at the following shot distribution of both teams should paint a clearer picture:

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SMB’s shot distribution

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Ginebra’s shot distribution

Ginebra almost exclusively went to the paint while San Miguel was forced to take more than half of their attempts from outside of it. Ultimately, the lack of interior defense, their calling card in the previous conference, killed them. They couldn’t much to force them to take more jumpers. The following is Ginebra’s shooting percentages. Notice the amount of red outside the paint.

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Ginebra’s shot performance

 The main culprit of this was Mike Dunigan, who was unstoppable. No one could guard him, not Ronald Roberts, Jr., not June Mar Fajardo, and certainly not Arwind Santos. He repeatedly got his way in the post, doing most of his damage from the charity stripe, having more attempts than the whole San Miguel team combined (22-18).

Other Observations

Lone Bright Spot

Roberts had a much better game this time around, tallying 32 points (63% TS), 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 5 blocks. He was aggressive on both ends and, more importantly, had better shot selection as his TS% was closer to his D-League average. He also hit 2 triples and went 4/7 from the line (after a poor 4/12 clip in his debut), showing better form on his jumper. Of course, his aggressiveness on the boards was there, which is really his greatest strength. He also showed off a few highlights, including a brutal poster on Dunigan, an athletic layup over Mark Caguioa on the break, and a block party in the final period. It wasn’t all positive however. In two games, he looks to be much better helping from the weakside than he is actually defending the post as Dunigan repeatedly took him to school. He didn’t lack for fight or aggressiveness but size and strength disadvantage became apparent at least for this match-up. That is a bit worrying as he was brought in as a defensive anchor. His limitations on offense were also on display. If he can’t get a clean look over his defender in the paint, he struggles to score as his lack of a post game really hurts him, although he did show nice touch on his hook shots. Overall, he’s been what was advertised: great rebounder, great motor, but limited offensively. I think we have to remember that he’s only 23 years old, still adjusting to his teammates, and stands to improve as the games go on.

Ailing Leaders

June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos continue to struggle as they combined for just 15 points on 6/22 field goals. They are pretty symbolic of the Beermen’s struggles as both look exhausted out there with shots they normally make not falling and defensive miscues all over the place. Fajardo is at least making up for it with his 13 boards, including 9 on the offensive end. Santos however isn’t giving them much at this point. He came off the bench, played just 18 minutes, and garnered 6 points, 3 boards, a steal, and a block. He also looked lost out there trying to adjust to playing the SF spot and having to guard Ginebra’s bigger PFs. There’s no easy fix as they continue to adjust to new roles and new rotations. Coach Leo Austria might do well to expand his rotation a bit more and give more time to his bench, especially the big men, in an effort to reduce the minutes of his two stars.

There’s just one word to describe San Miguel right now: tired. Ginebra took full advantage, hungrier and more desperate for this win. They couldn’t do much to deter them. With this 0-2 start, Wednesday’s match against the Blackwater Elite becomes a must-win. That is probably the only “easy” game they’ve have left as the rest of the teams look dangerous at the moment. If they don’t want to dig themselves into too deep a hole, they have to just brush this off and work on getting the next one.

Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports5