This was a pretty ugly game but what else would expect from the PBA’s two slower teams (based on pace: Blackwater’s pace is 88.2, Meralco’s pace is 87.1) and worst shooting teams (Blackwater Elite 41.7 eFG%, Meralco 47.0 eFG%)?
Let’s look at the Four Factors for this game:
The number that stood out in this game was the Meralco Bolt’s 6.9 TOV%. In a game where possessions rarely changed hands, the Bolts made sure to at least get a shot out of each possession. Much of that credit must be given to their Asian Import point guard, Seiya Ando, who has completed his third game with zero turnovers. He now holds the lowest turnover rate in the PBA who plays more than 20 minutes per game and has played more than one game at 6.0%. Ando has been a nice reinforcement for the Bolts at the lead guard position to say the least.
This wasn’t a cruise to victory as the final scoreline might suggest though. If you get to take a look at the quarter splits, you’ll see that the Bolts were down by as much as 10 in the 1st quarter and were still down by 5 by the half.
One of those culprits is the Bolts consistent struggle to execute in the half court set.
In terms of eFG%, the Bolts finished in the bottom three of the Philippines Cup, bottomed out completely in the Commissioner’s Cup, and are the second lowest shooting team in this Governor’s cup. This is a problem that the Bolts have to address soon, and it was magnified even more in the first quarter of this game against Blackwater. It took them seven full minutes before the Meralco Bolts could score in a half court set offense in this game and even after that, they still lacked to find a consistent flow.
Andre Emmett hasn’t helped much with this issue. Emmett is an above average efficient scorer, but among players who has played in a significant amount of minutes and games, he also has the second highest usage rate (38.9% Usage, only 0.1% behind Ginebra’s Orlando Johnson). Emmett holds on to the ball for a long amount of time when he gets it and usually it burns up a lot of the shot clock. Sometimes his offensive presence draws in the defense and he is able to fire a cross court pass to break it down.
The rest of it ends up with Emmett going towards the basket for a shot in traffic or a pull up shot. It’s okay if he’s hitting the shots, but once he starts missing them (like in this game where he shot a season low 30.9% eFG) the Bolts have to find a way to cover that offensive void up.
This is the part where we gave a warm welcome for the Return of Jared Dillinger.
After having been absent due to an MCL sprain since the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs, Dillinger’s return has been something Bolt’s fans have been looking forward to. He didn’t do much in his debut return against the Barako Bull in their last game (played only four minutes), but he got the green light in this game and he made it count.
Dillinger was one of the best players on the floor. He added a much-needed slashing presence to the Bolts half court game and the Blackwater Elite found it hard to stop him off the dribble.
He was their best rebounder on the floor (18.4 TRB%) and he made the transition from defense to offense off missed shots much more fluid. Dillinger came into the game at the start of the 2nd quarter with the Bolts down by 10, and I don’t think it was a coincidence that the Bolts built on momentum each time he was on the court until they finally got hold of the lead.
After the Bolts put in Dillinger, it seemed that their offense thrived from the newly jolted fluidity and it led the other players to be able to create beautiful sequences in the half court set.
Heading into the second half of the season, it will be interesting to see if the Bolts can further build up on this offensive flow into the latter part of the conference.
They will be playing Talk ‘N Text in their next game on Tuesday and maybe then we will get to see if this new-found success is real or simply just a display of taking advantage of a struggling Blackwater team.
Featured picture by Chris Ruzol (Rivals.PH), Videos courtesy of ABS-CBN Sports