It’s a (literal) battle of the giants as the San Miguel Beermen (3-1) take on the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (1-2).

June Mar Fajardo vs. Greg Slaughter

The Kraken vs. Gregzilla

It’s a pairing that always gets fans buzzing and certainly the match-up everyone will be focusing on. Both players come in with different circumstances though. June Mar Fajardo is still trying to work his way into proper game shape. A 17-13-2 line at 55.5 TS% is definitely nothing to scoff at but the extra weight, lack of offseason training, and on/off foot pain has definitely affected his performance. On the other hand, Greg Slaughter is having the best start of his career averaging a monstrous 27-20-4 line on 69.1 TS%. He’s benefitted the most from Tim Cone’s tutelage. It looks like Slaughter will have the upper hand in this one.

Looking at the team stats is where you will see the stark difference between these two squads. If you want to talk about offensive efficiency, you only have to look at the Beermen: they play at the league’s slowest pace (88.3) but are the fourth best offensive team averaging 101.1 points per 100 possessions. Why is that important? Because almost all the top offensive teams play at a rabid pace (greater than 94). Even with Fajardo playing a bit below average, their improved depth along with the excellent play of Alex Cabagnot (17-4-5), Marcio Lassiter (13-5-3, 34.8 3PT%), and Arwind Santos (12-7, 2.6 steals+blocks) has kept them afloat. Simply put, San Miguel is at its best in the halfcourt, including the defensive end at 95.2 DRTG (3rd best). Against another halfcourt team in Ginebra, the Beermen should have the advantage, especially in terms of chemistry and experience.

Despite big conferences so far from the aforementioned Slaughter and his frontcourt partner Japeth Aguilar (18-11 on 54.6 TS%), they surprisingly have the 2nd-worst (!!!) offense in the entire league. It doesn’t help that they can’t take care of the rock (18.1 TOV%, worst) and struggle to shoot from range (43.6 eFG%, 23.7 3PT% – 3rd and 2nd-worst respectively). Their lack of deadeye shooters is something the Beermen can take advantage of since they like to run people off that three-point line. If they can force contested jumpers and pack the paint, they stand a good chance of winning even against Ginebra’s Twin Towers. If they struggle to contain Greg Slaughter, I could see coach Leo Austria go zone in stretches. That would definitely be a good idea but they have to make sure that no player goes hot from deep. One other area they have to watch is the offensive glass. They can’t allow Ginebra to have many second chances especially with how bad they’ve been shooting the ball.

Most eyes will be on Fajardo vs. Slaughter but the key match-up for me is Arwind Santos vs. Japeth Aguilar. I’ve called Santos San Miguel’s barometer to winning a few times before (see Philippine Cup vs. Commissioner’s Cup last season) and that remains true in the start of this season. He’ll have a tough task against a taller, longer, more athletic opponent. Luckily, Aguilar isn’t much of a low post threat. Santos just has to challenge his jumpers and stay in front of him. Offensively, he has to be a threat on the perimeter to at least pull Aguilar out of the paint and free up space for Fajardo down low.

From the onset, this looks like a tough game for the San Miguel Beermen. But if they play to their strengths, slow Slaughter down (easier said than done) and contain everyone else, they should find themselves on another two-game winning streak. #FearTheBeer

Game Details
TIME: 5:15 PM