The San Miguel Beermen are just coming off an emotional rollercoaster of a win against the grandslam-seeking, defending champions in the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers. After a tough opening week, they finally face a team that really isn’t on the same level in the Barako Bull Energy, who are currently 0-2. I wouldn’t be so worried about this game if it wasn’t for San Miguel’s tendency to play down to their opponent’s level or the fact that the game will be held in Binan, Laguna. May I remind you that the last time they played there (vs the Alaska Aces), it didn’t go so well:


Comm. Cup Average

100 33.8% 48.6% 44.0% 49.2% 108.1

vs. Alaska

78 25% 30.9% 28.7% 33.3% 84.3

The Beermen’s shooting numbers were down across the board, with most of those coming as conference lows. They looked lifeless on the court. They also eventually lost that game vs Alaska as they ran out of steam in the 4th. Hopefully, it won’t be the same outcome this time. What do they have to do to win?

Keys to the Game

Start Strong

The best comparison I have for the Beermen is that they play like diesel, as it takes them a while to heat up and play well. These are their quarter scoring averages so far:


Q2 Q3 Q4


22.0 24.0 26.7

They always come out slow and low on energy, usually resulting in a halftime lead or disadvantage, only to turn it up in the 4th. Against Alaska, they scored 30 in the 3rd only to fall flat in the 4th. Against Rain or Shine and San Mig, they battled back and blitzed them with 30-point 4th quarters. Of course, it’s always good to finish strong and some would argue that it certainly is better than starting well and losing steam. Again though, things would be a lot easier for them if they came out with the same sense of urgency they have at the end of games.


Hit your FREEthrows

San Miguel’s freethrow shooting has been anything but reliable so far. Their numbers for the 1st 3 games:


vs ALA

21 32 65.6%

vs ROS

30 38 78.6%

vs SMC

13 29 44.8%

It’s been erratic. The good and bad news is that they usually should around the 65%, which means that their last two games have somewhat been outliers. So we really won’t know what kind of freethrow shooting team will come out this time. Hopefully we have one that can shoot 70% because they will likely generate a lot of attempts, especially with no one other than Mick Pennisi able to guard June Mar Fajardo. Speaking of Fajardo, he and import Reggie Williams will have almost all of the Beermen’s freethrow attempts. Their numbers:


vs ALA vs ROS vs SMC


50.o% 76.9% 44.2%


70% 78.2% 40.0%

If they don’t want this to be another close game, they have to hit their freebies at a more consistent rate.

Clean up the offensive glass

I’m already sounding like a broken record here but the Beermen have to do a much better job to finish defensive possessions by not allowing the opposing team to go wild on the offensive glass. This is what they’ve given up in their 1st 3 games:


vs ALA

20 30.8%

vs ROS

18 25.7%

vs SMC

17 26.2%

The good news is that the amount of offensive rebounds they’ve given up has been going down and they actually won the battle on the offensive glass vs SMC 18-17. And to be fair, only two players in Marqus Blakely (10) and Marc Pingris (3) grabbed a lot as compared to Alaska who had everyone go wild. The big men will have to work and box out and guards may sometimes have to dig in as well instead of leaking out for fastbreak opportunities that might not even be there without a defensive rebound. Barako is a curious case still as they grabbed 20 and 7 offensive rebounds in their 1st 2 games respectively, which makes it unclear which is the norm. What can be made sure is they have to watch out for import Eric Wise and Willy Wilson. As long as they limit 2nd chance opportunities and 2nd chance points, they should be good.

Guards have to dig in and rebound as well. (Photo Credit: Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports 5)

Guards have to dig in and rebound as well. (Photo Credit: Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports 5)

Key Match-up

June Mar Fajardo vs Mick Pennisi

Fajardo will look to take on half of the Bruise Brothers for this game as Dorian Pena is said to be out for the conference with an injury. That is definitely a bit of good news. Still, Pennisi has the size and veteran smarts to battle and frustrate Fajardo in the post. Fajardo should look to do the same thing he did against Rain or Shine and get his defenders into foul trouble as Barako does not have a lot of options to defend him. Sure they actually have a lot of big men but they’re all too small (height and weight-wise) to contend with Fajardo down low. If he can keep Pennisi out for much of the game, he will likely be guarded by players such as Dave Marcelo, Hans Thiele, and Willy Wilson, all of whom are not as effective as the Bruise Brothers. If he can be consistent and produce another 18/18 game, San Miguel can claim this victory no doubt.