Ginebra Loses Anew as Aces Pound on Slaughter’s Absence

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Alaska Uses a Big Third Quarter to Get Third Straight Win

Sometimes, having a bully on your team helps a lot especially when you’re up against the elite teams in the PBA such as the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. The bully on your team will do the dirty works against the opponents’ best player from mind tricks to small antics that will take the focus out of that specific and even, absorb some elbows along the way. Usually, the bully on your team is your team’s main muscle man. Fortunately for the Alaska Aces, they do have their own muscle man and that man is none other than Vic Manuel.
Greg Slaughter is nowhere on the court but on the bench. Joe Devance isn’t playing just yet. Both men were forced to watch as their team got dominated for the second time around, this time by the surging Alaska Aces, 97-83. The Aces of Alex Compton hiked their win number to 3 after starting the season with two consecutive losses. On the other hand, Ginebra has dropped its second straight game exactly 9 days after their stunning loss at the hands of the Blackwater Elites.
What happened in the game? Below are the numbers:

The absence of Gregzilla balanced things out

Greg Slaughter has played a vital role in Ginebra’s Governors’ Cup championship which earned him the Best Player of the Conference award. So it’s no surprise that Ginebra missed him during last night’s encounter against the Aces as Alaska took advantage of the situation. Offensively, the Aces shot 44% from the field which also includes a 43% shooting from the 2-point area. This is precisely because Slaughter wasn’t around to challenge the Aces’ slashers. It also enabled the biggies of Alaska to do their works as Sonny Thoss had 17 points, complimenting the efforts of Vic Manuel who led the Aces with 18 points. The Aces also won the rebounding battle, 45-43.

Vic Manuel’s Efforts

Over the last few years, Vic Manuel has established a reputation as a bruiser, someone you wouldn’t enjoy playing against because of the mere fact that he will find ways to knock the ball out of your hands or worse, to frustrate you and eventually, take away your focus in the game. And we all saw Vic Manuel’s efforts to the fullest last night as he led the Aces with his18 points- 14 of those points came in the 2nd half when the Aces ran havoc against the puzzled Gin Kings. He shot 6 for 15 from the field and made 6 of his 8 attempts from the free throw line. Manuel also added  6 rebounds while playing for 23 minutes.

Conclusion

The good news for the Gin Kings though, they have until Friday to prepare for their game against the Phoenix Fuel Masters. It should give them enough time to ponder on their mistakes. It should give Tim Cone to plan the needed adjustments should Greg Slaughter miss that game, again because despite the Fuel Masters’ 2-2 record, Phoenix has vastly improved. Will Ginebra finally break their losing streak? They better. Why? The league-leading San Miguel Beermen are next after Friday. 

Ginebra is Over the Stunning Loss to Blackwater- Tim Cone Hopes so

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

9 days should be enough for the Gin Kings to get over the trauma

Whenever the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings lose a game in the PBA whether it’s in the Finals or in the elimination rounds, almost the whole of the venue is quiet. Why? Ginebra is the crowd darlings that’s why it’s extremely painful and maddening for their fans to see their beloved Gin Kings go down. But perhaps, one guy on the Ginebra bench is absorbing all of the pain and disappointment every time his team loses a game and that guy is none other than Coach Tim Cone, winner of 20 PBA championships.
Against the Blackwater Elites who handed Ginebra their first defeat in three games, Tim Cone has all the reasons to be disappointed with the performance of his players. They were limited to 77 points including 14 points 16 points in the 2nd and 4th quarters respectively. They shot 36% from the field and 15% from the three-point territory. They had 21 turnovers and their bench got outscored by Blackwater’s bench, 34-13.
9 days after their horrible game, Tim Cone is hoping that the Gin Kings have already put the Blackwater game behind them as they are up against the Alaska Aces who are coming into this game, riding on their 2-game winning streak. They destroyed the Kia Picanto in their last game when they limited Kia to only 65 points including only 5 points in the third quarter.
While Alaska is leaning on the confidence of Jeron Teng plus the presence of Calvin Abueva, the Aces are still up for an uphill battle against the Gin Kings because we all know that Ginebra could only get meaner and tougher to play against coming off a defeat.

Conclusion

Despite their shakiness which can be associated with the fact that they were still intoxicated by their championship run during the Governors’ Cup, the Gin Kings are still among this conference’s title contenders.

Prediction: Ginebra will win. 

Jeron Teng Looks Forward to 1st Game against Ginebra

Jeron Teng
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

The son of Alvin Teng embraces confidence boost heading into battle against the giants

After winning their first two games to open the league’s 43rd season, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings looked like the team who is ready to take down the league’s best all-Filipino crew, the San Miguel Beermen. Then, they ran into the path of the Blackwater Elites who in turn, handed the Gin Kings their first taste of defeat this conference, 94-77. While the fans of the Gin Kings are hoping that their team will bounce back from this setback, they are heading into another anticipated battle and it’s not some mediocre team, folks. It’s the Alaska Aces who are now bannered by Calvin Abueva AND their prized rookie, Jeron Teng.
Facing the Gin Kings may be a daunting task but one player is looking forward to it and that player is Jeron Teng. In fact, the son of former PBA player, Alvin Teng, is the welcoming the confidence boost that he gained from breakaway third quarter against the Kia Picanto when outscored the entire Kia team, 13-5. Folks, that’s 13 of his 23 points in the win- Alaska’s 2nd straight.

Question: Can Ginebra defend Jeron Teng?

Realistically, Ginebra has no one on their current roster ASIDE from Joe Devance that can match-up the intensity of Jeron Teng on both ends of the court. As we saw in their previous game against Blackwater, Ginebra struggled to defend Mac Belo who scored 22 points despite making 6 of 17 shots. Aside from Belo, Ginebra also failed to limit Allein Maliksi who added 17 points for the win. 
Having said that, Ginebra will have their hands full on Jeron Teng aside from the Beast, Calvin Abueva. Sure, they can contain the Beast but defending Jeron Teng is another story all throughout. Tim Cone could send out Kevin Ferrer or even start Japeth Aguilar at the 3 spot to try to defend Teng. But then, we’re talking about Tim Cone, ladies and gentlemen, the winningest coach in the history of the PBA. One way or another, he’ll figure things out. But then again, we’re also talking about defending Jeron Teng. 

Prediction: Alaska will stun the Gin Kings in Sunday’s game, January 21.

Leethal Weapon is still Lethal: Earns PBA Player of the Week Recognition

Paul Lee of Magnolia
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Paul Lee adds another recognition after leading Magnolia to back-to-back wins

Paul Lee, despite the tons of injuries that hampered his performance in the last several seasons and even made him miss most of the Star Hotshots’, now known as the Magnolia Hotshots, semifinal series against the Meralco Bolts during the previous Governors’ Cup.
Now healthy and free of injury, Paul Lee is ready to lead his Hotshots as they attempt to end their semifinals upsets over the past season. And he is already making noise early on the 43rd season as he was named as the Player of the Week after leading his team to two consecutive wins after dropping their season opener against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. 

Just how good was Paul Lee?

Paul Lee, AKA The Angas ng Tondo, averaged 17 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and, 1.5 blocks in their first two games of the new year. His brilliance started off against the winless, Kia Picanto when he scored all of his 13 points in the pivotal 3rd quarter alone which enabled the Hotshots to run away for good. Then, he took the super rookie, Kiefer Ravena to school as Lee scored 21 points to help Magnolia beat Ravena’s NLEX Road Warriors. 
By taking the recognition, Paul Lee just beat some of the big shots in the league such as 4-time MVP, June Mar Fajardo, Stanley Pringle, Vic Manuel, JP Eram, among others. If he can keep on playing this good, we shouldn’t be surprised if he is to become one of the leading candidates for the Best Player of the Conference award for the All-Filipino conference. 

Conclusion

The Magnolia Hotshots are currently tied with the Gin Kings as both squads have a 3-1 record which is good for second place just behind the unbeaten San Miguel Beermen and one of the reasons why the Hotshots are hot is because of the brilliance of Paul Lee. And like it or not, Paul Lee is more than just about “angas”. 

Motivated Indeed: Blackwater hands First Loss to Ginebra, What Was the Formula?

Elites use efficient scoring to dominate the Gin Kings

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

When you look at the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings who have Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson, you would think that this has been the best Ginebra team that was assembled in the past years and frankly, this Ginebra core has brought wonders to the league’s crowd darlings as they have won two of the last Governors’ Cup championships against all odds. With Slaughter now healthy and Tenorio free of his injury problems, Ginebra looked like a team that will challenge the supremacy of the San Miguel Beermen in the All-Filipino conference after winning their first two games.

Then, the Gin Kings ran head-to-head against the Blackwater Elites who were STRONGLY MOTIVATED to become the first team to beat Ginebra this season. And that’s exactly what happened, folks. In a stunning turn of things, the Elites beat the Gin Kings, 94-77.

What happened? Here are the things that happened:

Good Second and Fourth Quarters

After both squads ended the first quarter with the score tied at 19 apiece, the Elites locked down on D as they limited Ginebra to only 14 points in the second quarter while scoring 22 points of their own. The Gin Kings managed to fight back in the third quarter as they outscored Blackwater, 28-23 but that was the best Ginebra could come up with against Leo Isaac’s motivated players as Ginebra could only manage 16 points in the final quarter which was a far cry to Blackwater’s 30 points. The two quarters that Blackwater defended well proved to be the difference in the game.

Better Shooting

On paper, Ginebra is considered as a super team in the PBA but against Blackwater, that “super” transformed to “mediocre” as Blackwater was the better team in terms of making the most out of their opportunities and their numbers didn’t lie either. Overall, the Elites made 46% of their 78 shot attempts including a 38% shooting from beyond the three-point line. These were far better compared to Ginebra’s 36% field goal shooting and 15%  shooting from rainbow country. 
The only place bright spot for Ginebra: They outshot Blackwater at the free throw line, 72%-71%.

Conclusion

The good news for Ginebra though, it’s just one game. One bad game doesn’t take away the fact that they among the title contenders for this conference. They will bounce back from this setback one way or another.
On the other hand, Blackwater can use this big win to continuously believe that they can compete against the league’s bests. Can they keep it up? That’s up to them. 

Can Blackwater Beat Streaking Gin Kings?

LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Leo Isaac says the Elites are “STRONGLY MOTIVATED” to beat Ginebra

For any team to be able to beat a well-coached, a well-oiled team like the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, you will need more than just a talented team. You will need a disciplined team because you are talking about a Tim Cone-coached Ginebra squad that has won the last two of the Governors’ Cup championships so you’ll definitely need all the help you can get especially if you’re a mid-field team like the Blackwater Elites.
According to Head Coach Leo Isaac, the Elites are STRONGLY MOTIVATED to start 2018 by handling the Gin Kings their first win of the conference. Coming off a victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to end their 2017 campaign, the Elites are hoping to move to 2-1 record after tonight’s game although Blackwater knows for themselves that they are faced with a daunting task of defending the powerful Twin Towers of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar.

Question: Can the Elites actually beat the Gin Kings fair and square?

Realistically and statistically, the odds are against the Elites but if we are to look at the performance of their notable players against Rain or Shine, you will see that Blackwater MIGHT have a shot at taking down the Gin Kings. Why? Mac Belo played one of his best games since coming into the PBA after leading his team with 25 points which included 5 for 9 shooting from the three-point line. Mike Digregorio added 23 points while rookie Reymar Jose totaled 12 points. Allein Maliksi had 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists although he went 3 for 12 from the field while coming off the bench. 

Key to victory for the Elites: Bench Production

While Blackwater has a continuously re-emerging Mac Belo plus a promising rookie in Reymar Jose, the Elites must work as a complete unit meaning the bench players must produce more than 17 points- the numbers they had against Rain or Shine. And they won despite 53 points from the bench of Rain or Shine. 
You can’t just rely on your starters to carry your team and save the day. Especially not against Ginebra. 

Prediction: Ginebra will win against Blackwater. 

The Pros and Cons of Keeping Joe Devance

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Free agent Devance says he is staying with Barangay Ginebra

In the NBA, we have Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan, Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan, among others. These are the best coach-player tandems that were virtually successful throughout their stint together. Duncan, for one, has stuck with his coach through thick and thin in a relationship that lasted for almost two decades which produced 5 championships for the San Antonio Spurs. In the PBA, we have that rare combination of a coach and a player who could win together. Among those pairs is Tim Cone and Joe Devance.
The two won multiple championships together with the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers including Tim Cone’s second grand slam and now, to Governors’ Cup championships with the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. In fact, Tim Cone has said it in numerous times that Joe Devance has been one of the best players he has coached in his decorated coaching career owing to  the fact that Devance’s height plus his ability to play all 5 positions gives Tim Cone the flexibility to put Devance in any given position depending on the need and the situation.
However, their relationship is currently facing a threat as Joe Devance was surprisingly tagged as a free agent by the Gin Kings. The good news is, Joe Devance has already said that he’s sticking with the crowd darlings despite looming interest from Coach Louie Alas of the Phoenix Fuel Masters who said that signing Joe Devance will be a long shot.
Question: assuming that Ginebra decides to re-sign Joe Devance anew, what are the pros and cons of doing so?

Pros: Versatility and Flexibility

As mentioned above, Joe Devance is one of the few guys in the PBA who can play any position with ease. He can do almost everything for the Gin Kings. He can defend well because of his height and wingspan. He can be a point guard who can also shoot long-distance bombs. He’s almost a complete package for Tim Cone. No wonder why Tim Cone loves this guy. 

Cons: Fewer Minutes for New Guys. And fewer Opportunities

While keeping JDV will enable the Gin Kings to have a reliable scorer off the bench, his roster spot and playing minutes will be eaten and these are the things that can be given to the new guys like Jett Manuel or give more minutes for Jervy Cruz.
Additionally, imagine the possibilities if JDV is to be traded for younger players? Who knows? The core of the Gin Kings are not getting younger so they will have to start looking into the long run and start looking for new players who can take over once the veterans call it a career. But then again, JDV is still JDV. 

Conclusion

While it’s already possible that Ginerba will keep JDV, for now, it’s also unlikely that he will finish the season or his career with Ginebra. But then again, who would want to break a winning tandem like Tim Cone and Joe Devance? 

Twin Towers’ Strength is Too Much for Romeo-Less Batang Pier

LA Tenorio had 17 points and 7 assists for Ginebra. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

GlobalPort Falters in the 4th Quarter

The Global Port Batang Pier dropped their first game of the season without their superstar, Terrence Romeo. And their agony looked to continue as the three-time scoring champion was still on street clothes during their first game for 2018.
Despite Sean Anthony’s 29 points and a double-double from Kelly Nabong, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings fought their way back late in the 4th quarter after falling behind by as much as 9 points to get their 2nd win of the Philippine Cup after beating the Batang Pier, 104-97.
And here’s how the Gin Kings did it:


Twin Towers Displayed Full Strength

If there’s one thing that makes Ginebra a dangerous team to play against at any given game, it’s the dominance of their Twin Towers of Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter. Against the Batang Pier who was helpless without Terrence Romeo, Aguilar led the way with his 21 points on top of 9 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. GregZilla on the other hand, had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. With former versatile forward, Joe Devance now a free agent, it will be expected that Tim Cone will now rely more on his twin giants especially in games against the elite teams in the league.

Tinyente’s Brilliance

What would Ginebra do without LA Tenorio? They wouldn’t have won the Governors’ Cup for two consecutive seasons without him. And when the Batang Pier appeared for an upset victory, LA Tenorio nailed two three-pointers in the 4th quarter to ignite Ginebra’s comeback run. When the smoke cleared up, Ginebra’s Iron Man had 17 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals for another all-around performance.

Fourth Quarter Composure

To begin with, Global Port actually led as high as 11 points in the early moments of the 4th quarter before Ginebra began turning things to their favor. LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar took turns in scoring big basket after big basket which put a smile on Tim Cone’s face. Due to their composure, the Gin Kings were able to score 36 points in the 4th quarter alone while limiting the Batang Pier to only 20 points.

Conclusion

Will Ginebra continue to dominate even against the likes of the San Miguel Beermen? Possibly as long as the Twin  Towers are healthy. On the other hand, people shouldn’t count Global Port out of the playoff picture just yet. They have yet to win a game this season but when Terrence Romeo gets back, things will get better for the Batang Pier, eventually. 

Greg Slaughter is the Only One who Can Stop the Kraken- Tim Cone

If there’s one Ginebra player who can match-up against Fajardo, it’s Greg Slaughter. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

June Mar Fajardo might be a 4-time MVP but GregZilla got the numbers in his favor.

During the course of the past 4 seasons, June Mar Fajardo has collected 4 MVP awards on top of 5 championships for the San Miguel Beermen which included the first two of the 42nd season. In fact, the Beermen had a chance to achieve a rare Grand Slam if not to the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings who denied the Beermen of that chance upon beating them convincingly during the quarterfinals of last season’s Governors’ Cup.
On the other hand, Fajardo’s fellow Cebuano and long-time rival, Greg Slaughter has recently recovered from the injury which made him miss a ton of the previous two seasons and played a vital role during Ginebra’s championship run in the Governors’ Cup which ended with Ginebra hoisting another Governors’ Cup trophy after a full 7-game slugfest against the Meralco Bolts. To cap his successful stint during the Governors’ Cup, he earned the Best Player of the Conference award, an award that was backed by great performance throughout the closing conference of the league’s 42nd season.
On Christmas Day, Greg Slaughter exploded for 24 points and 12 rebounds, leading Ginebra to a win over the fading Magnolia Hotshots. Fajardo, on the other hand, had 26 points and 9 rebounds on December 27 against the Bolts.
While many coaches think that Fajardo is a virtually unstoppable, playing like an import, one coach thinks otherwise. That coach is none other than Tim Cone who said that Greg Slaughter may be the only player who can match-up with his Cebuano rival due to his height plus his ability to engage in a one-on-one battle against SMB’s star center. And Tim Cone isn’t wrong either. Strength-wise and stat-wise, only Slaughter can match up the numbers that Fajardo is putting up nowadays.

Conclusion

While Fajardo and Slaughter have yet to face each other this season, we can expect that there’ll be a war come the game between the two giants. Who will come out victorious?
Prediction: Greg Slaughter. 
But of course, Fajardo belongs to the league’s best all-local starting line-up so that’s something that Tim Cone will have to work around with. 

A Rocky 2017: Stories that Rocked the PBA in 2017


A Rocky 2017: Stories that Rocked the PBA in 2017
Ginebra’s championship run during the Governors’ Cup is just one of the many stories that happened this year (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

What a year it has been for the PBA.

In case you haven’t been updated as to what happened in the PBA during the past 12 months, well, you’ve missed a lot. From an aborted Grand Slam to a controversial trade, 2017 has been indeed a busy year for the PBA and it has been a controversial year, too.
To help you have a recap of what happened in the league, below are the stories which this pundit on wheels thinks that rocked the entire league the most:

The Standhardinger Saga

Let’s start with one of the biggest stories in local basketball scene this year. Christian Standhardinger’s name has been very much familiar with the Filipino fans owing to his stint with the Gilas Pilipinas. When he announced his intention to join the draft, it had been expected by many that he would be picked ahead of the likes of Kiefer Ravena and Jeron Teng.
Surprise!
First, he missed the Draft Combine. Then, the Kia Picanto traded away the rights to pick first in the draft to the San Miguel Beermen for a bunch of bench players. Many questions were shocked by Kia’s decision with some even questioning if they intend to become a competitive team in the future. Despite questions from almost every direction, Commissioner Chito Narvasa still approved the said deal. Despite the questions, there was nothing illegal in the deal, to begin with. It was a lopsided trade, yes but it’s within the rules and regulations of the league. 

The Chito Narvasa Stand-off

The deal that sent Standhardinger to the Beermen created a rippling effect to the league and among those affected was none other than the good commissioner, Chito Narvasa. Why? He approved the trade despite calls for him to veto him. That started a war between two factions: the one led by the MVP Group who wanted Narvasa out of the picture, and the one that was led by the SMC Group who stood behind Narvasa. The MVP Group managed to get 7 votes to terminate Narvasa’s contract which a vote short of the 8 votes required to remove or retain a commissioner. This war canceled the annual planning session of the PBA in the United States, creating speculations of a possible lockout. 
Then came along the opening day of the 43rd season. The board members gathered around during a press conference just a few hours prior to the opening ceremony- announcing that Chito Narvasa has tendered his resignation. Then, the board came up with a resolution, retaining Narvasa until the end of the year to allow Narvasa to help in the selection of his replacement. 
Who will replace him? We’ll have to wait until next week to know. 

Ginebra’s Back-to-Back Governors’ Cup Championships

Ginebra’s road to another Governors’ Cup championship wasn’t easy as many people initially thought. First, they had to face a Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beermen that was bannered anew by 4-time MVP, June Mar Fajardo in the quarterfinals. Then, the Gin Kings battled the TNT KaTropa in a controversial semifinal series. 
Then came to the Finals where they faced the Meralco Bolts- the same team they beat for the championship in 6 games last year.
After winning the first two games of the series, many people began coming up with predictions that Ginebra would sweep Meralco this time around. The Bolts fought back and forced a Game 7 at the Philippine Arena. However, LA Tenorio showed us that yes, despite playing through pain, he still has what it takes to lead his team to a championship and that’s what he did. He drained jumper after jumper in front of a 50,000+ crowd who trooped to the Philippine to witness Ginebra being crowned a champion anew. LA Tenorio finished the 42nd season of the PBA with a Finals MVP. 

Conclusion

As it is, 2017 will be remembered as both a controversial and an exciting year not just for the PBA but for the basketball scene in general. While we are still waiting for the replacement of Chito Narvasa as the PBA Commissioner, this pundit on wheels believes that 2018 will be a better year for the PBA. If anything, this year’s draft class is already loaded with talent enough to shock the league next year. 

Recap: GregZilla Lifts Ginebra to a Christmas Day Win

LA Tenorio also contributed 15 points and 8 assists in the win.

Slaughter slaughters Magnolia with a huge double-double performance.

Heading into the season’s first conference after winning two consecutive Governors’ Cup titles, both against the Meralco Bolts, expectations have been sky-high for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. With Greg Slaughter, fresh from winning the Best Player of the Conference award in the last conference, back in full health and playing like the monster he was advertised a few years ago, many pundits are starting to believe that the Gin Kings have been seasoned to challenge the supremacy of the San Miguel Beermen- at least in the Philippine Cup.
True enough, the Gin Kings started the new season the way their fans always wanted: a win on Christmas Day against the Magnolia Hotshots as the crowd darlings opened the season with an 89-78 victory over the Hotshots who were missing the services of many of their players due to injuries.
So what enabled the Gin Kings to win at the Philippine Arena? Below are the numbers:

GregZilla’s Dominance

We all know that when Greg Slaughter is healthy and playing the way he should be, it’s almost impossible for whoever who is guarding him to contain him and even Norman Black saw that, twice. Against the Hotshots, Slaughter scored 24 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. He went 10 for 14  in the field while making 4 of 5 from the free throw line. All that in 33 minutes of action. Efficient, isn’t it?

Shooting Well and Defending Well

If there are two things which enabled the Gin Kings to win two consecutive Governors’ Cup championships in two tries, it would be their ability to play well on both ends of the court. On Christmas Day, Ginebra shot 44% from the field while forcing Magnolia to only 46% field goal shooting. While both squads struggled from rainbow country, it was the shooting percentage from the 2-point area which enabled Ginebra to come out on top and hold onto the lead throughout the game.

Tenorio’s Brilliance

LA Tenorio, one of the smallest guys on the court, stood the tallest during Ginebra’s championship run in the last conference despite playing through pain. Against Mark Barroca and company, he contributed 15 points and 8 assists. While he struggled from the field with his 5 for 15 shooting including a 3 for 11 outing from the three-point line, he helped shut down Barroca who only managed 4 points while going 2 for 12 from the field. Tinyente added 5 steals and a blocked shot to his all-around performance. 

Conclusion

Are the Gin Kings talented enough to dethrone the league’s best all-local team? That remains to be seen. However, if you look at their game against Magnolia, it would seem that, it’s the case. Ginebra is definitely one of those teams that can seriously become a threat to the Beermen. They will only need one thing: consistency. 

PBA Governors: SMB, Ginebra and TNT are Teams to Beat in Philippine Cup

A Wheeler’s Opinion: SMB’s star power will dominate anew

(Photo by  the PBA Media Bureau)
If you watched the official launching event for the upcoming 43rd season of the PBA, you wouldn’t believe that the 12 PBA governors were once divided with regards to whether or not Chito Narvasa should stay on as PBA commissioner. For one event, the 12 teams are united behind the fact that the new season will open on December 17, 2017, when the defending Philippine Cup champions, the San Miguel Beermen open their title defense against the Phoenix Fuel Masters. 
There were no visible tension or any sort seen during the launching event and there were many questions that were thrown to the governors themselves. Among the questions that were asked was this:
Who among the 12 teams will be the team to beat in the season-opening Philippine Cup?
Three teams stood as the answers for the majority of the 12 teams:
  1. San Miguel Beermen
  2. Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings
  3. Talk N Text KaTropa
For starters, picking the Beermen as one of the teams to beat this upcoming conference comes as no surprise because they are first and foremost, the defending champions. The Gin Kings will have Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar plus a continuously improving Scottie Thompson as they will enter the new season following a successful Governors’ Cup run which ended in a championship celebration. The KaTropa, despite being kicked out of the semifinals by Ginebra in the last conference, will again be bannered by Asia’s best point guard, Jayson Castro, and big man Troy Rosario. The three teams will be the teams to beat indeed. 

Question: who will win it all?

Answer: The Beermen.
Why?
Simply put it this way. Neither Ginebra nor TNT has someone to even match up against the 4-time MVP, June Mar Fajardo. Tim Cone can employ sending his Twin Towers to double team Fajardo but we all know that won’t work as SMB also has shooters. And, the best starting 5 is still intact, folks. No other team in the league has that powerful all-locals starting unit.

Conclusion

While SMB may be the among the favorites to win it all, anything is still possible. After all, who would have thought that the finals series between Ginebra and the Meralco Bolts would go to a Game 7? 

Questions to be Answered in the New PBA Season

Fans will finally get the answers once the season kicks off next week

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
With the originally scheduled opening of the PBA’s 43rd season just 6 days away, fans are a bit worried. Why?
Here’s why:
There’s no official statement that is released just yet with regards to the status of PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa- whether he will stay on as the commissioner or not. The last thing we heard about the Chito Narvasa Saga was that the SMC Group, along with their allies, failed to show up in the board meeting that would have allowed both sides to settle this issue, once and for all. 
Even though outgoing PBA Chairman Mikee Romero has already stated a few weeks ago that the issue surrounding the commissioner would be settled before the season opens on the 17th, we haven’t received anything official- just yet. 
Which brings us to the first question that needs to be answered ASAP:

Who will be the PBA Commissioner come December 17, 2017?

While Chito Narvasa is still the commissioner as far as the 5 teams that have been backing him are concerned, the 7 teams that wanted him out of the picture would have Rickie Santos as officer-in-charge until such time that a commissioner gets 8 votes from the 12 teams. 
Technically, Chito Narvasa is still the PBA commissioner- for now. That’s because if you are to look at the rules, 8 votes are needed to either remove or retain a commissioner and so far, it’s technically and figuratively a stalemate. 

Will San Miguel win a Grand Slam this time?

Possibly. If the Beermen can figure out the  Ginebra problem, a problem which ended their chances at a rare Grand Slam last season. 
But talent-wise, a Grand Slam for the Beermnen is more than possible than ever because of the fact that they will have Christian Standhardinger who is expected to suit up upon the completion of his stint in the ABL. Plus, the Beermen’s best starting unit remains intact headed by 4-time MVP, June Mar Fajardo. 

Who will win the Rookie of the Year?

This year’s draft class is filled with talent, probably one of the most talented draft class in recent memory. So the race for the Rookie of the Year will be tight. Here’s the catchy part: Christian Standhardinger will miss the Philippine Cup so that’s a big blow for his chances which means guys like Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng and even Reymar Jose are the probable candidate for the ROY. 

Conclusion

Will the season start as scheduled? There’s no word that there’ll be a move so yes, the PBA will be back on December 17, 2017. The commissioner? Grand Slam? ROY? We’ll sure get the answers. Eventually. 

New Twin Towers in Town: Dominance of Standhardinger and Fajardo is Inevitable

And PBA fans should expect more from one of the league’s most hyped rookies

He has contributed to the success of our national team which won the gold medal in the SEA Games earlier this year. He joined the draft and was traded to the San Miguel Beermen even before the draft day itself. 
However, we all have to wait until Christian Standhardinger’s stint in the Asian Basketball League is over before we can see him play in the PBA. But the long wait will be worth it especially for the Beermen. Why? Standhardinger will get to team-up with the Kraken himself, the now 4-time MVP, June Mar Fajardo.
And if you look at how Standhardinger has been playing in the ABL as of late, particularly his last game against the Mono Vampire when he exploded for 40 points while grabbing 17 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists, then imagine what he can do once he starts playing alongside Fajardo as they are about form one of the league’s most formidable frontline duos that could challenge the dominance of Gnebra’s Twin Towers of Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter. 
Or, can they actually challenge Aguilar and Slaughter once the two teams face each other?
Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter may be taller than both Fajardo and Standhardinger but talent-wise, it’s a good battle. However, if we are to look back at the previous battles between the two teams,  Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar needed to double-team the Kraken just to limit his production which enabled the shooters of San Miguel to hit their outside shots. Now, put  Standhardinger into the mix and you now have two dominant big men.
One of the reasons why the Fajardo-Standhardinger duo will be a force to be reckoned is the fact that San Miguel already has the best starting unit in the league right now whether they have an import or not. In addition to this, the arrival of Standhardinger will also allow Leo Austria to have one of his starters come off the bench, possibly Arwind Santos because Standhardinger will likely to start at the power forward position unless, Austria will put Santos at the 3 spot.

Conclusion

The Fajardo-Standhardinger duo looks scary on paper but who knows, this is the duo that can perfectly match-up against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. And who knows? Christian Standhardinger might give June Mar Fajardo a run for his money. But of course, we all have to wait until he makes his PBA debut. 

What to Expect: Manila Clasico Christmas Edition to be Played at the Philippine Arena

Big crowd expected on Christmas Day

(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
The last time the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings played at the Philippine Arena, they ended the night as back-to-back Governors’ Cup champions. That game was attended by 54,086 PBA fans. And since it included the crowd darlings, the Gin Kings, a big percentage of the crowd was seen wearing red shirts. Red is the color of Christmas. Red is the color of Ginebra’s dark jersey. And, red is the color of love. Come Christmas Day, we can expect the Philippine Arena to be filled with red-shirted fans anew as the PBA announced that the Gin Kings and Magnolia, formerly the Purefood Star Hotshots, will face off for the Christmas Edition of the Manila Clasico.


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The announcement was made along with the partial release of the initial schedule of the PBA Philippine Cup which is originally set to open on December 17, 2017 which will feature the San Miguel Bermen opening their title defense against the Phoenix Fuel Masters right after the opening ceremony which will happen at the Big Dome.
The venues for the initially scheduled games will include the Big Dome, Cuneta Astrodome, San Juan Arena and of course, the Philippine Arena which will also be the venue for the first Christmas Day game which will feature the NLEX Road Warriors versus the GlobalPort Batang Pier right before Manila Clasico.
Speaking of the Manila Clasico, who will win on Christmas Day?
The Gin Kings are coming off a championship run so we can expect them to come out firing on all cylinders come to the Philippine Cup and against Magnolia, expect the Twin Towers of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar to dominate the battle as they have always been doing in the past. With a healthy GregZilla, nothing is impossible for the Gin Kings.

Conclusion

Assuming that the season will open on schedule, Manila Clasico on Christmas Day at the Philippine Arena will be a big boost not just for Ginebra but for the entire PBA community because it will allow the fans to have a PBA Christmas at the biggest dome in the world. Just imagine the happiness of the fans if Ginebra will win the game. Priceless!

Joe Devance Missing the Philippine Cup: How will it Affect Ginebra?

Joe Devance’s absence will be huge

Joe Devance has played a crucial role in Ginebra’s championship run during the Governors’ Cup. 
Make no mistake about it, folks. Joe Devance is one of Coach Tim Cone’s favorite players. Why?
Joe Devance has been one of the few PBA players who can effectively play any position and defend any position as well. That’s what makes JDV unique. But more than anything else, ever since Joe Devance came over to the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and reunite with Tim Cone, good things have started to come Ginebra’s way.
Joe Devance has been a vital piece to Ginebra’s back-to-back Governors’ Cup championships- both against Allen Durham and the rest of the Meralco Bolts. In the 2017 edition of the Governors’ Cup Finals which went to a Game 7, JDV has produced notably good numbers and came to the Gin Kings’ rescue whenever they needed a basket or a defensive stop. His height and wingspan makes him a perfect complement to Ginebra’s Twin Towers of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar. JDV has averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds during the closing conference of the 2016-2017 season.

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However, with the upcoming Philippine Cup starting on December 17, there’s one problem that may affect Ginebra’s chances this conference especially if they want to challenge the San Miguel Beermen. According to Coach Tim Cone, Joe Devance has recently gone under the knife to remove a bunion in his left foot which has been bothering him during the past conferences. This surgery will require JDV out of basketball-related actions for the next 3 months.

How will this affect Ginebra?

For starters, Ginebra will lose one of its power forwards who can shoot and score threes. Additionally, someone from the bench of Tim Cone will need to double his effort to at least, cover that 12 points per game that they will be losing. 
Fortunately, Ginebra will have Art Dela Cruz back as he has recovered from his injury. And, JDV’s absence will enable Tim Cone to field rookie Jett Manuel, Ginebra’s first-round pick in the PBA Draft.

Conclusion

One way or another, Ginebra will miss the services of Joe Devance once the season kicks off. But who knows? It might be a blessing in disguise. Who knows? JDV might come back as a better player eventually. For now, Ginebra will have to do with their current roster. 

By the Numbers: A Lookback at the 17 Years of Jayjay Helterbrand

Just how good Helterbrand was in his prime years?

Jayjay Helterbrand Barangay Ginebra
After 17 years in the PBA, Jayjay Helterbrand is walking away from basketball. And this time, it’s for good. 

If there’s one guy who was to blame for Bal David losing his playing minutes during the latter part of his career and eventually lost it totally mainly because he got injured, it’s Anthony “Jayjay” Helterbrand. 
To begin with, Helterbrand, the one who wore number 13 for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, began by playing one game with the Batangas Blades in the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) in March 2000 before he was recruited by then Ginebra Coach Ron Jacobs to be the backup point guard to Bal David.
Since then, Jayjay Heltebrand’s basketball career took off as he took over the starting role and formed what Ginebra fans thought as arguably the best backcourt duo the PBA has ever seen, at least during those years. 
Helterbrand, alongside “The Spark” Mark Caguioa, formed the dynamic duo which earned the moniker as “The Fast and the Furious”, a moniker they earned during the 2004 season thanks to the duo’s exciting plays in games when they won back-to-back championships during that same season. 
Now that Jayjay Helterbrand has announced his retirement just a few days after the Gin Kings won their second consecutive PBA Governors’ Cup championship,  let’s take a look at some of the highlights of Helterbrand’s 17-year stint with Ginebra:

6 Championships. And More

His points-per-game average didn’t reach 20 points in his 17 years in the league but whether you like it or not, Jayjay Helterbrand’s mere presence on the court, as we’ve seen during the recent 2 championship runs of Ginebra, was enough to energize the team and the crowd. 
In the end, the now-retired Ginebra floor general has totaled 6 championships. Aside from that, he also had an MVP award in 2009 and a Finals MVP award during the Philippine Cup of the 2006-2007 season.

Oh and don’t forget, folks. He was sidelined in the early goings of the 2005 season but came back and won the MVP plaque during the 2005 PBA All-Star Game and, the MVP award during the Sultan Cup in Brunei when he led Team Pilipinas’ run. 
Now that’s a complete career, folks. Helterbrand may not have scored the highest number of points but there’s no question that he has already earned the respect, and the love of the Ginebra community who will forever be grateful for his contributions. 

577 Games in 17 Years

Can you just imagine how fast those 17 years went by? Despite being injured during the latter parts of his career, Jayjay Helterbrand played 577 games in his career. In those games, he had averaged 8 points per game which were highlighted by an 18 points per game average during the 2007-2008 season and was followed up by a 17-points per game average during the following season- the same season when he bagged his only MVP award. 

The Fast and the Furious: A Brotherhood Never to be Broken

Forget the numbers. Forget the awards and all. 
The one thing and probably, one of the best things Ginebra fans will always remember and love about Jayjay Helterbrand is his partnership with backcourt partner, Mark Caguioa. They may not be as “fast” and as “furious” during their early years together but if there’s one thing that kept Giinebra together and what enabled the Gin Kings to become back-to-back Governors’ Cup champions, that would be the bond that has been influenced by the two oldies’ brotherhood. Brotherhood. 
If anything, Helterbrand’s partnership with Caguioa may have won Ginebra 6 championships together but together, they also built their own family and it’s called the Ginebra family. Why? Brotherhood is why.

Conclusion

Jayjay Helterbrand is someone you can’t easily replace. Sure, the Gin Kings have LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado and latest draft pick, Jett Manuel to take turns in playing the point guard position for Tim Cone but if there’s something that separates Helterbrand from the rest, Jayjay Helterbrand can instantly energize the crowd just by preparing to enter the court. That’s how loved Helterbrand is. That’s how he will forever be loved. 
Enjoy your retirement, #13.

By the Numbers: Three BIG Things that Made Ginebra Champions Anew

Just what went well for the Gin Kings in last night’s Game 7?

LA Tenorio

Tinyente bagged another Finals MVP award as he led Ginebra to another title. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

As the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup trophy was finally into the air inside the Philippine Arena, as the confetti rained down the court, as the crowd mobbed the winning team, Tim Cone and the rest of the back-to-back champions, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings finally released a sigh of relief. 
After all, they saw the Meralco Bolts cut down a double-digit lead to just 4 points with just under a minute to play in the 4th quarter. Fortunately, time was on the side of the Gin Kings as they held on to win Game 7 with a 101-96 decision in front of a mostly pro-Ginebra 54,000+ crowd that watched the rubber match. 
Now, let’s check out the numbers that enabled Ginebra to win it all, finally:

Tinyete’s 26 Points= Another Finals MVP Award

If there was one specific player who deserved all of the praises, it’s none other than one of the smallest guys from either team, Lewis Alfred Tenorio. His 26 points, built on 4 long range bombs, 4 assists and 2 steals in 41 minutes of action gained him another Finals MVP award to add to his already full resume. 
Mind you, folks, this guy was playing all conference long with an injured arm but decided to wait until the end of the season to undergo a needed surgery. 
Now that the season has ended with Ginebra being the champs, again, Tinyente’s sacrifices were all worth it. That, folks, is the living example of Ginebra’s NEVER SAY DIE attitude and whether you like him or not, Tenorio deserves a drop of your respect. 

50% Field Goal Shooting: The Less. The Better

Sometimes, you don’t need to shoot more to win a basketball game, especially in a championship game. The Meralco Bolts took 84 SHOTS in Game 7 and they only made 35 of them. In contrast, Ginebra only took 77 shots and yet they made 39 of them, a 50% field goal shooting. Efficient, isn’t it? They also better at the 2-point area (53%) and from long distance (43%). Now that’s how you win a championship. By hitting your target instead of missing them, horribly. 

55 Points for Ginebra’s Giants

As mentioned by this basketball pundit on wheels during the entire series, one of Ginebra’s main strength against the smaller Bolts is their height. And if you watched Game 7 last night, then you saw how the bigs of Ginebra continuously pounded on the inside while Justin Brownlee sniped from the outside.
The result: Brownlee, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance went on to combine for 55 points- 23 from Brownlee alone. 
That’s a big difference compared to the output of Meralco’s bigs who got 26 points from Allen Durham and only 7 from Reynel Hugnatan. Now that’s dominance.

Conclusion

Meralco may have lost, again but that doesn’t make them any weaker. No. It’s just that they’ve lost to a better team, again. They’ve lost to a hungrier, bigger and more talented team in Ginebra. That’s the reason why the Gin Kings are kings again.

54,000+ Witness Game 7 as Ginebra Wins it All, Finally

And they survived a furious 4th comeback from the Bolts

LA Tenorio may be playing with a problematic arm but that didnt stop him from hitting 5 threes in Game 7. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

After six games, no championship trophy was hoisted into the air. Yet.
After six games, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings couldn’t use their size advantage to the fullest.
After six games, the Meralco Bolts couldn’t hit their target. Consistently.
After six games, the series is still tied at 3-3 and that’s why we’re heading to a Game 7 so they can finally decide who will take home the PBA Governors’ Cup championship.

Ginebra Imposed Early Dominance

The defending champions started Game 7 with a 5-0 scoring blast as Meralco found it difficult to find the basket as the latter went scoreless until Allen Durham scored on a pair of charities 2 minutes into the game as he later added a lay-up to make it 7-4, in favor of the Gin Kings. Ginebra’s lead never reached beyond 5 points during the first 6 minutes of the opening quarter as Meralco was able to slice it down to 1, at 12-11. Compared to Game 6 when they were shooting miserably from deep, Ginebra already have 3 three-pointers made during that span- 2 from LA Tenorio.

Turnovers have began to hit the Bolts’ offense as evident by Baser Amer who have the ball tipped by Scottie Thompson  as the latter dished the ball to Japeth Aguilar for an easy lay-up to make 21-14, with under 3 minutes to play in the 1st quarter as Ginebra ended the first quarter on top, 27-19 with LA Tenorio leading the way for the Gin Kings.

Ginebra continued with their efforts to break the game wide open as LA Tenorio later hit another long bomb and Scottie Thompson added another lay-up to give their team, a 9-point advantage, 4 minutes into the second quarter as Norman Black called a timeout. Mark Caguioa scored on a floater and Justin Brownlee added another inside to make it 42-29 as the Bolts struggled to get anything on their offense. Ginebra’s lead later ballooned to 19 as Caguioa and Greg Slaughter took turns in scoring on the inside which led to another Meralco timeout with under 4 minutes to go before intermission. The champs held a huge 52-37 lead into the break as Meralco acted as if they needed a halftime filled with rants from Norman Black because their offense in the first half was a mess, really.

The Halftime Numbers

Tiyente LA Tenorio had 13 points while Justin Brownlee added 11 points and 4 rebounds. Offense-wise, Ginebra was the dominant team as evident by their 58% field goal shooting in the first half, including a whopping 65% shooting in the 2-point area. They also prevented the Bolts on the break, limiting Meralco to 0 FASTBREAK POINTS while Ginebra 6 points off fastbreak opportunities.
Surprisingly, Jared Dillinger had 11 points after the first two quarters for Meralco while Cliff Hodge added  8 makers. Allen Durham was almost a non-factor for Meralco as he only managed 6 points on a horrible 1 of 6 shooting while playing for 24 minutes, so far. Meralco’s inability to score consistently in the first half was what doomed them in the first place as they only made 35% of their shot attempts. Lots of clanks. Indeed.


Meralco’s Struggles Continued


After Meralco sliced the lead to just 12 points during the opening minutes of the second half, Ginebra unleased an offensive outburst to re-establish a 20-point lead with under 10 minutes to play- a lead sliced down anew to 17 after Allen Durham completed a three-point play. However, shooting slump hurt Meralco during the early goings. To make things worse, Jared Dillinger was called for a “deliberate” foul after a hard foul on Japeh Aguilar with under 4 minutes left. Despite Allen Durham’s commendable effort who produced 12 points in the 3rd quart alone, Meralco failed to contain LA Tenorio who already had 23 points after 3 quarters as Ginebra walked with an 81-64 leading into the final quarter. 
Meralco began the 4th quarter by cutting the lead to 12 anew thanks to Garvo Lanete’s trey which forced Tim Cone to call a timeout with barely 2 minutes into the quarter. But Justin Brownlee scored 5 consecutive points for the Gin Kings to quickly regain control and put his team up, at 86-69. Ginebra’s lead never reached below 11 points the rest of the first 7 minutes of the 4th quarter as every time Meralco attempted to cut the deficit, Ginebra instantly answered right back with an outburst of their own to keep the Bolts at bay. 
That was until Anjo Caram scored on a lay-up to bring Meralco within 9 points for the first time in a LONG time. However, for Meralco, Joe Devance made it 100-89  on a lay-up with under 2 minutes as time was already on the side of the Gin Kings. Chirs Newsome decreased the deficit down to 7 on a lay-up while he was fouled but missed the bonus charity as Allen Durham grabbed 2 offensive rebounds during the final minute and dished an assist to Jared Dillinger who in turn, drained a three-pointer to make it 100-95 with 40 ticks on the clock. Utilizing their height advantage, Japeth Aguilar was able to grab an important offensive rebound as LA Tenorio made 1 of 2 free throws to make it, 101-96 with 22 seconds left as Norman Black used up his final timeout of the ballgame. 

The Numbers that Mattered in the End

LA Tenorio led Ginebra with 26 points while Justin Brownlee added 23 points and 8 rebounds. Scottie Thompson chipped 14 points and 9 rebounds- leading the Gin Kings in rebounds in this victory. As expected, it was defense that won the title for Ginebra as they limited Meralco to only 41% field goal shooting throughout Game 7. 
Allen Durham’s 26 points and 24 rebounds were all for naught as Meralco, for the second consecutive time, against the same team, failed to win it all. Jared Dillinger’s 20 points came way too late and so were Cliff Hodge’s 14 points. Despite their 52-43 advantage in the rebounding battle, Meralco missed 7 of their 23 attempts from the free throw line. SAYANG, isn’t it? 
Scores:

Ginebra
Tenorio 26, Brownlee 23, Thompson 14, Slaughter 12, J. Aguilar 10, Devance 10, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 2

Meralco
Durham 26, Dillinger 20, Hodge 14, Newsome 11, Caram 9, Hugnatan 7, Amer 6, Lanete 3

Quarter scoring

27-19, 52-36, 81-64, 101-96

By the Numbers: 3 Reasons Why There will be a Game 7

Ginebra faltered. And Meralco pounded on

Jared Dillinger had 9 points in Game 6- his highest in the series.
No balloon fell. No confetti rained down. No mob ran to the floor to celebrate as the final buzzer sounded. And most importantly, no championship trophy was hoisted last night thanks to the Meralco Bolts’ 98-91 Game 6 victory over the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. As a result, both teams will face each other, for the last time, in tomorrow’s Game 7 and we can expect that the 53,000+ number of fans that watched last night to be broken, again. 
Why? 
Friday. Philippine Arena. Game 7. Ginebra. Championship. You name it.
The Gin Kings faltered during the early goings of Game 6 and in fact, Game 6 saw Tim Cone’s boys failing to take the lead all game long and three reasons were to be blamed why Ginebra is preparing for a Game 7 instead of partying with their fans:

Reynel Hugnatan: The Old Man’s Still Shooting

Back in Game 3 when Ginebra was on a verge of taking a 3-0 series lead, one of the oldest men from either side, Reynel Hugnatan exploded for 22 points while making it rain from deep, dropping 7 long-range jumpers. That’s 7 threes, folks.
Last night, just when Ginebra thought they could finally celebrate, Reynel Hugnatan was sent into the court just a few minutes after tip-off and drained his first trey of the night just a few possession after checking in. 
By the end of the night, the oldie but definitely still goodie Hugnatan totaled  24 points which were built on 6 THREES– including the last one with 16 seconds left in the game to stretch Meralco’s lead to 10, for the last time. Aside from that, Grandpa Reynel also had 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals while playing for 37 minutes. No wonder why Norman Black trusts him especially with Ranidel De Ocampo out.

Ginebra was Out-REBOUNDED

Rebounds. Rebounds. Rebounds. This is one statistics that the Gin Kings should have been dominating to begin but what happened in Game 6 was quite the opposite. Even though they were shooting better from the 2-point territory, Ginebra found themselves lagging behind in the rebounding department as Meralco got 51 rebounds as compared to Ginebra’s 41. 
What was more surprising is that the smaller Bolts actually got 22 offensive rebounds while the giant Gin Kings only managed to grab 12 offensive boards. Allen Durham grabbed 19 boards- 7 from the offensive end. Even Chris Newsome had 5 offensive rebounds. The result: 16 second-chance points for the Bolts. 

Ginebra’s Bad Habit: Turnovers 

18 turnovers in Game 6- converted by Meralco to 25 BIG points on the other end plus 12 fastbreak points. In any basketball game, more so a championship game, the higher your number of turnovers are, the higher the probability that you would lose the game. And Ginebra was uncharacteristically bad in terms of taking care of the orange whenever they had. 
Sure, they came within 4 points late in the 4th quarter but their consistent habit of turning the ball over was one of the primary reasons why they lost the game in the first place. The starters of Tim Cone alone, combined for 13 of those 18 mistakes and for any team who is hoping to clinch the title, it’s a horrible number of turnovers. Really.

Conclusion

Whether or not Reynel Hugnatan will torch the Gin Kings tomorrow, it’s up to Ginebra. Whether or not the Gin Kings will regain supremacy in the battle for the rebounds, it’s up to Greg Slaughter and company. Whether or not Ginebra will succumb to make silly and costly turnovers, it’s up to the Ginebra players alone. 
Ginebra is still heavily favored to win it all because if we look at them on paper, they are the more talented team. And whether or not they will use that talent and every advantage that they to win it all come tomorrow, it’s up to Ginebra. Alone.  

Hugnatan Hits 6 Threes, Durham has 28 to Force a Game 7

Meralco led all game along and held on in the 4th

Chris Newsome and the Bolts defied the odds to force a Game 7.

One team is hoping to celebrate their second consecutive Governors’ Cup championship by the end of the night while one team is hoping to stay in the title hunt and extend this series to a Game 7 on Friday at the Philippine Arena. For the defending champions, win Game 6 and you get to enjoy the rest of the night. 
For the Meralco Bolts, on the other hand, provide Allen Durham with the much-needed reinforcements and they might just extend this best-of-7 Finals series to a winner-take-all match. Might.
Nope. The balloons and the confetti will have to wait until Friday as the Meralco Bolts did what they have to do to extend this series to a rubber match after they beat Ginebra, 98-91 in Game 6.

Meralco’s Locals Sparked Early On

Garvo Lanete started things off in Game 6 with a three-pointer as the Meralco Bolts raced to a 12-4 advantage after Chris Newsome scored on a fastbreak lay-up halfway through the first quarter. Around that span of time, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings were only shooting 25% from the field which explained why Tim Cone called a timeout.

After Ginebra cut the lead down to 5, at 15-10, the Bolts answered right back with their scoring run of their own to put up a 9-point lead. Another trey from Lanete gave Meralco their first taste of a double-digit advantage, at 25-14 as Ginebra mysteriously struggled to get anything going on offense. Meralco held a 29-17 after the first 12 minutes of action as Lanete already have 8 points under his name as he nailed 2 of Meralco’s 4 threes to start the game.

Meralco’s offense vanished at the early moments of the second quarter which enabled the Gin Kings to cut down the deficit down to 6, at 29-23 as Ginebra’s defense held the Bolts scoreless for almost 3 minutes as the Bolts succumbed to commit costly turnovers. Garvo Lanete finally broke the spell of the Bolts on a teardrop and Aleen Durham added another lay-up to re-establish a nine-point cushion, at 33-24. Baser Amer later drained a trey and Durham added another inside basket as Meralco established a 14-point advantage heading into another Ginebra timeout.
5 points from Jared Dillinger plus a free throw from Amer made it 44-24 with 6 minutes to play as Ginebra was struggling terribly to put the ball into the basket as Reynel Huganatan drained another three-pointer to keep the Bolts by 17 points. Both teams walked into the halftime break with the Bolts leading, 54-17.

The Digits at the Half

Allen Durham, as expected led the way for the players of Norman Black with 13 points and 11 rebounds but this time, he had more reinforcements as Reynel Hugnatan had 11 points off the bench while Lanete added 10 as a starter. Three-point shooting has been the key for Meralco as it was evident in the first half of Game 6 which saw  the Bols make 7 of their 16 shots from outside
For Ginebra, Justin Brownlee matched Durham’s numbers with 13 points on his own but no one else followed through for the Gin Kings as Greg Slaughter had 8 points while LA Tenorio scored 6 points on 3 of 9 field goal shooting. Almost everything went terribly wrong for the champs, at least in the first half of Game 6 as Ginebra failed to match the intensity of Meralco as evident in their points scored on fastbreak opportunities, an area where Tim Cone’s boys only scored 2 points while allowing Meralco to score 12 points on the break.

Ginebra’s Climb

From the highest of 17 points during the halftime break, Ginebra relied on Justin Brownlee as the Gin Gin Kings went on a scoring burst to cut the deficit down to 13 points, at 61-48 with under 8 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. After a Meralco timeout, Greg Slaughter unleashed a personal 4-0 run as part of Ginebra’s 9-0 run cut down the lead down to a single digit for the first time since the first half as Garvo Lanete scored on the inside for a rare Meralco basket. 
Later, Scottie Thompson drained a trey as both teams reached the halfway mark of the third quarter. Garvo Lanete scored on another three-pointer to make it a double-digit lead for the Bolts as Gnebra called a timeout with under 5 minutes to play. Ginebra managed to keep the deficit down to single digit the rest of the way as they entered the final quarter just down 6 points, 75-69. 

Meralco Regained its  Rthym 

Right after Ginebra cut down the deficit to 6 points anew, Meralco regained control as Allen Durham went to work to open the 4th quarter and Reynel Hugnatan drained another three-pointer to give Mealco, a 13-point lead at 85-72with 8:08 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Ginebra’s back-to-back threes off a timeout brought the deficit to a single digit, again but Cliff Hodge on a highly-contested lay-up as Chris Newsome added a free throw for an 11-point advantage with the 4th quarter already halfway done. 

One Last Push for Ginebra (?)

Ginebra’s slowly began to click as LA Tenorio’s trey with under 6 minutes left in the game brought his team within 6 points, at 88-82 prompting Norman Black to call another timeout. Moments later, Mark “The Spark” Caguioa drained a turnaround jumper to bring Ginebra within 4 points, at 90-86- the closest the Gin Kings came within all game along. But that indeed was the closest Ginebra came within as Meralco scored on a free throw plus a putback from Allen Durham to put the Bolts up 7 with under 2 minutes play. Then, Allen Durham scored on the inside with 40 seconds left on the clock and to lock up a Game 7 on Friday, Reynel Huganatn drained his 6th three-pointer of the game with 16 seconds left. 

The Digits that Mattered

Allen Durham scored 28 points and grabbed 19 rebounds while playing for 48 MINUTES. The good news was, he had help this time around as Reynel Hugantan scored 24 points which were built on six of 12 shooting from long distance. Garvo Lanete 15 points while Chris Newsome added 10 points and 11 boards. What were the keys for Meralco? 51-41 rebounding edge plus 42% shooting from long distance.
Justin Brownlee led the Gin Kings with 23 points and 9 boards while Greg Slaughter added 18 points in his second consecutive game as a starter in this series. LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson each scored 12 points but Ginebra only got 16 points from its bench players. 
Scores:

MERALCO – 98
Durham 28, Hugnatan 24, Lanete 15, Newsome 10, Dillinger 9, Hodge 6, Amer 6, Caram 0.

GINEBRA – 91
Brownlee 23, Slaughter 18, Tenorio 12, Thompson 12, Devance 11, J. Aguilar 6, Caguioa 6, Ferrer 3, Taha 0.
Quarter scoring:
29-17, 54-37, 75-69, 98-91

Back to Basics: 3 Things Ginebra Must Do Tonight to Win it All

Failure to do these things might force a Game 7. Might

Scottie Thompson 2017 Governors Cup Finals
With Sol Mercado out, the rest of the Ginebra guards must step up in Game 6. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

After a convincing outing from LA Tenorio who was held scoreless in Game 4, after Greg Slaughter started for the first time in the series and scored 17 points in their Game 5 victory at the Philippine Arena which was witnessed by more than 34,000 fans, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, the defending Governors’ Cup champions, can clinch the title with a win tonight in Game 6 at the Philippine Arena. 
The only question is: Can the Gin Kings pull it out and celebrate tonight? It’s up to the Gin Kings themselves. But one thing is certain: the Meralco Bolts will rely on Allen Durham anew to carry the majority of the Bolts’ scoring load come tonight’s Game 6.
Now, we all know that the Bolts can definitely force a Game 7 on Friday IF they can hit their target, especially from rainbow country. If you’re Ginebra, wouldn’t it better if you can celebrate tonight rather than go home and prepare yourselves for a slugfest on Friday? Should the Gin Kings do the things below, there won’t be a Game 7 to worry about:

Limit Allen Durham’s Output

Okay. This is easier said than done for any team who is playing against the Meralco Bolts. Keep in mind, folks, Allen Durham is a two-time Best Import awardee and his numbers don’t lie either. In their Game 5 defeat, Durham scored 27 points, leading all scorers from both teams, on 52% field goal shooting. He also had 19 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks If anything, the Gin Kings should be wary of Durham’s capability to unleash a scoring onslaught especially now that the Bolts’ season is on the line. 

What to do? 

Tim Cone should put his best defenders on Allen Durham. Throw in double teams whenever Durham is in the post. Frustrate him and you take away Meralco’s power source. Whoever Tim Cone will be sending in to guard Durham will have his hands full. Now, who among the giants of Ginebra can defend the smaller Durham? 
Answer: All of them. Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Justin Brownlee and yes, even Joe Devance can make life miserable for Allen Dirham especially on the offensive end primarily because of the formers’ height advantage.

The Guards Must Step Up

With Sol Mercado out indefinitely due to the injury that he sustained back in the closing seconds of Game 4 which was won by the Bolts, the play setting duty falls to the hands of Tineyte, LA Tenorio who played for 40 minutes in Game 5 and scored 17 points. Earlier this week, Tenorio indicated that he doesn’t mind playing for 48 MINUTES if the need arises but, he doesn’t have to do that, right? 

What to do?

Scottie Thompson MUST step out of his shooting slump and take parts of the defensive pressure away from Tenorio because in case you’ve forgotten, Tenorio is already playing with a problematic arm so the last thing you will need is Tenorio aggravating that arm injury due to the fact hat the rest of the Ginebra guards are struggling to pick up the pace. 
Tim Cone may even opt to allow Jay Jay Helterbrand play for longer minutes because whether we like it or not, Helterbrand can still contribute as we saw in last year’s Game 6 of the Governors’ Cup Finals. 
And, what a better way to clinch a title than with Helterbrand teaming up with old pal, Mark Caguioa, on the floor, for one final time, for possibly their final championship run, together? Fans will definitely go nuts if the old Fast and the Furious duo takes the court for one final ride.

Shut Down Meralco Early On

Let’s make this simple, folks. Bury the Bolts during the early goings of the game and don’t allow Durham and company to turn the tide in their favor. In Game 1, Ginebra finished the first quarter with an 11-point lead and then outscored Meralco, 25-16 in the fourth quarter which enabled the Gin Kings to win the game. If Ginebra can do that again tonight, then the party starts right after the final buzzer.

Conclusion

Ginebra has been in the same situation last year when they were one-win away from the title. If they do the things above, they won’t be needing a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Justin Brownlee to take it all. 

By the Numbers: Meralco’s Mess Cost them in Game 5

And Allen Durham was all alone. Again

Allen Durham had another Best Import awardee performance but wasn’t enough. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Poor, Allen Durham. He scored 27 points and grabbed 19 rebounds- 8 on the offensive end, all while playing for more than 44 minutes in last night’s Game 5 of the best-of-seven Finals series and yet, the Meralco Bolts are just one loss away from another disappointing Finals exit. We cannot blame Allen Durham alone, folks because he is the lone light that was shining for Meralco all series long. Take that lone light and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings would have won the championship in 4 games.
Now, let’s not play the blame game and focus on the numbers alone. Why? If you were able to watch Game 5 last night, then you know how messy the rest of the Meralco Bolts, both offensively and defensively. To explain the mess  that hurt the Bolts’ chances of entering Game 6 with a chance to clinch their first-ever championship in franchise history, this basketball pundit on wheels listed down three important statistics that the Bolts clearly messed up, big time:

50 Points in the Paint for Ginebra

If you allow a team filled with big men standing at 7 foot to score 50 points in the shaded area, you cannot expect your team to win. Yes, folks, the Bolts’ ever soft defense against the big men of the Gin Kings enabled the latter to bully their way into the paint and score 50 points in the process. Justin Brownlee and company were able to penetrate through the embarrassing defense of Meralco as they were able to score on all sorts of shots whether it’s a high-flying dunk or an acrobatic lay-up from LA Tenorio. Bad defense + bad offense= bad game overall.

33 Attempts from Rainbow Country

One of the main weapons that the Meralco could have fully utilized to their advantage is their ability to make it rain from deep. In Game 5, yes, they were able to make 9 three-pointers, 6 more than what Gineba. The problem was, Meralco heavily relied on their sharpshooters who missed 24 of the 33 attempts that the Bolts took from rainbow country. Let this basketball pundit on wheels emphasize that: Meralco attempted 33 attempts. From the three-point line. No wonder why they lost.

20 Turnovers

During the first four games of the series, it was Ginebra who was more careless with the ball every time they had the ball possession. In Game 5, it was the Meralco Bolts who were either showing their carelessness or were defended well by the Gin Kings as the former committed 20 turnovers. 5 of those 20 turnovers came from Allen Durham and we cannot blame him either for that. He was the only one consistently and diligently carrying the load for the Bolts so it’s only natural and human for him to commit mistakes especially when the Gin Kings threw two defenders at Durham. As a result of those Meralco turnovers, Ginebra was able to score 23 points off those turnovers and that was huge for the Gin Kings. 

Conclusion

Meralco will have two choices to make come Game 6 on Wednesday: clean up their mess and play like the league’s top-seeded team entering this conference’s playoffs to force a Game 7 or, create more mess and watch platoons of red-shirted fans celebrate as the balloons fall from the ceiling of the Philippine Arena, all while Ginebra hoists up the Governors’ Cup championship trophy. 

By the Numbers: Greg Slaughter Showed BPC Performance in Game 5!

Greg Slaughter Monster Performance proved that he’s worthy of the BPC award

This giant from Cebu is the primary reason why Ginebra is one win away from the title. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Sure, Justin Brownlee had another all-around performance with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals plus a block. 
Sure, Lewis Alfred Tenorio came alive after being held scoreless in Game 4 and scored 17 points in Game 5. 
But if there’s one specific player in Tim Cone’s rotation who stood up the tallest, both literally and figuratively, it’s their 7 footer center, Greg Slaughter. 
As mentioned by this basketball pundit on wheels during the first few games of this exciting best-of-7 Finals rematch, the success of the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings will depend on how Greg Slaughter plays. Why? He wasn’t around when both the Gin Kings and the Meralco Bolts met each other in last year’s PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, a series which was won by Ginebra in 6 games, on Brownlee’s heart slashing three-pointer at the buzzer.
Just a few hours after receiving his Best Player of the Conference award right before tip-off of Game 4, Greg Slaughter for 19 minutes, scored 6 points, missed 3 of his 5 shot attempts, only grabbed 5 rebounds and failed to block even a single shot. That’s not how one supposed to play after being named as the Best Player of the Conference. Absolutely unacceptable especially after Ginebra dropped a close 85-83 defeat at the hands of the Bolts.
Game 5 at the Philippine Arena came along last night. And came with it was Greg Slaughter’s dominant self. How dominant was Gregzilla last night? Below are his numbers:

17 Points: A Proof of Offensive Strength

In the first 4 games of the series, Greg Slaughter was only averaging 8 points per games with 14 points in the series opener being his highest point production. Then came along Game 5. Slaughter played for 33 minutes and just literally slaughtered the smaller Bolts with his 17 points even though he only made 5 of his 19 attempts. He made that up by making 7 of his 9 attempts from the free throw line. If Greg Slaughter is scoring this high again come Game 6 on Wednesday, it should be more than enough to help the defending champions to clinch their second consecutive Governors’ Cup title.

16 Rebounds: A Show of Height Advantage

One of the many advantages Ginebra is holding against the Bolts is their sheer height advantage and Greg Slaughter made sure that Meralco wished they had taller guys. In last night’s victory, the gentle giant from Cebu grabbed 16 rebounds, 5 of them came from the offensive end. Those 5  offensive boards, part of the 19 offensive rebounds that Ginebra had in the entire game, played a crucial role as the Gin Kings were able to score 23 points from those offensive rebounds. See? Height is might indeed especially if you know how to utilize that advantage.

6 Blocks: A Clear Sign of Defensive Might

In case you’ve still been wondering why Meralco opted to shoot from outside despite the fact that their shooters weren’t hitting the target during the entire series, it goes back to their height disadvantage as every time Allen Durham and company were trying to attack the paint, the giants of Ginebra were there to challenge and block the former’s way to the basket. As a result of that, the Gin Kings had 9 blocks at the end of Game 5, 6 of those came from Greg Slaughter. 
Now how do you avoid being blocked by Greg Slaughter? The painful answer to that is, you don’t. You just work around it unless you can create unblockable shots like you’re Kobe Bryant or Allen Iverson. If Meralco wants to score, they should shoot as if they are Ray Allen, Stephen Curry or even Klay Thompson who can shoot and make threes even in their sleep. They can always try to attack but we all know that hasn’t worked for them, right? Not if the gentle giant, Gregzilla is standing right in the middle, waiting for you to take your next move.

Conclusion

Le’s this simple, folks. Should Greg Slaughter dominate again in Game 6, then the championship is for Ginebra all to take come Wednesday. Why? Simple: The Bolts have no one tall enough to challenge Slaughter and prevent him from slaughtering them anew. The least Norman Black’s boys can do is to put him in difficult situations. Do that and we might have a Game 7, at the Philippine Arena. Might.

Ginebra Blows an 18-Point Lead, Still Wins to Move One Win Away from Title

Greg Slaughter proved why he is the Best Player of the Conference

Greg Slaughter silenced his critics with his huge double-double performance. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

There are two reasons why this best-of-7 series needed a Game 5 at the Philippine Arena. One: Ginebra won first two games. Second: they lost the next two against the smaller Bolts.

Historically speaking, whoever wins Game 5 when the series is tied at 2-2 will go on to win the championship. After Game 5, one team will go home needing to only win the next game to finally win it all.

They established an 18-point lead in the second quarter. They allowed Meralco to come back and even momentarily take the lead in the third quarter. In the end, the defending champions, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings were able to regain control in the 4th quarter and consequently, regain the lead in the series as they won 85-74 over the Meralco Bolts, only needing one more win to clinch the championship.

Tinyente is Back!

The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings started Game 5 with a 6-0 run, 4 points from LA Tenorio who was held scoreless in Game 4.  The Meralco Bolts, like they were in the previous four games of the series, were struggling to put the ball into the basket for the first 4 minutes of the first quarter until Allen Durham made the Bolts’ first basket with a contested lay-up. The defending champs held a 6-point cushion during most of the opening quarter until Meralco started chipping away and cut down the deficit at 12-10 on Cliff Hodge’s lay-up with under 4 minutes to play, leading to a Ginebra timeout. Right after a Ginebra miss, Reynel Hugnatan drained an open three-pointer to give Meralco its first taste of the lead, something LA Tenorio did on the other end to make it 15-13 in the favor of the crowd darlings. Ginebra held onto the lead, at 21-15 to finish the first quarter. LA Tenorio exploded for 9 points after going 0 of 7 in the previous game.

Ginebra’s Second Quarter Rampage

Greg Slaughter and Mark Caguioa teamed up in the opening minutes of the second quarter to give Ginebra an 11-point lead as the Bolts settled for mostly outside shots which were missing the mark, terribly. A three-pointer from Joe Devance made it 29-15 which forced a timeout from Norman Black as his team was held scoreless for almost 3 minutes.Chris Newsome finally broke the Bolts’ silence with a long one from deep.

Meralco Charged Back

Meralco went on a scoring run which was highlighted by an Allen Durham Dunk to trim down the champs’ lead to 11, at 35-24. Then, Garvo Lanete drained a rare long one for Meralco to bring the Bolts with 7, at 36-29 with 2:11 on the clock. Jared Dillinger hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to trim the deficit to 42-35 at the intermission

The Numbers at the Break

LA Tenorio and Greg Slaughter each had 9 points after the first two quarters for Ginebra who led despite only making 36% of their shot attempts and 20% of their shots from beyond the 3-point line was also the reason why their 18-point lead quickly evaporated.
As usual, it was Allen Durham yet again, shone the brightest for Meralco in the first with his 12 points as the Bolts only shot 31% from the field. Fortunately, it was their three-point shooting which brought them back in the game as Meralco dropped 5 long bombs of their 19 attempts.  

Meralco’s Electrifying Third Quarter

Meralco was able to sustain their shooting touch to open the second half with 7 points to come within 2, 44-42 during the first 3 minutes of the third quarter, a scoring run which was highlighted by another trey from the old man Reynel Hugnatan. LA Tenorio later put things back in control for the Gin Kings as he drained another jumper plus a driving lay-up to reestablish a 9-point lead. 
The Bolts then went on an 8-0 run to come within 1, at 56-55 with under 5 minutes to play in the third. After a Japeth Aguilar dunk, Garvo Lanete added another one from long distance to tie things up at 58 apiece and Allen Durham picked up his own miss and scored to make it 60-58, in favor of the Bolts as a visibly upset Tim Cone called a timeout.The  Gin Kings still held a 66-62 lead heading into the final quarter as Allen Durham scored 11 points in the entire third quarter.

Ginebra Regained Control. For Good

Ginebra went back to work as their defense shut down Meralco while building an 8-point advantage with under 9 minutes to play. But, Meralco quickly woke up from their nap as Allen Durham and company came within 74-70 on Chris Newsome’s basket.

However, a 3-point play from Justin Brownlee and a pair of charities from Greg Slaughter put the Gin Kings up, 79-70 as Norman Black was already complaining about the calls from the officials. A Greg Slaughter basket gave a double-digit lead for the Gin  Kings as Meralco was beginning to go back to their bad habit of fading away late in the game. LA Tenorio later scored on the inside to give Ginebra a 13-point advantage heading into the final 2 minutes of the game. 

The Numbers

Justin Brownlee led the way for the Gin Kings with his 20 points and 12 rebounds but it was Greg Slaughter’s 17 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks that made the difference for the Gin Kings. LA Tenorio also scored 17 as Ginebra won despite only making 3 of their 22 attempts from rainbow country. 
Allen Durham had 27 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Bolts as Garvo Lanete played his best game in the series, so far, to score 11 points off the bench but nobody else scored significantly for Meralco which was one of the primary reasons why they one loss away from another disappointing Final defeat. 
Scores:
Ginebra
Brownlee 20, Slaughter 17, Tenorio 17, Devance 12, J. Aguilar 8, Thompson 5, Caguioa 4, Ferrer 2.
Meralco
Durham 27, Lanete 11, Hugnatan 8, Caram 7, Hodge 6, Dillinger 6, Newsome 5, Amer 4, Tolomia 0, Faundo 0.
Quarter scoring:
21-15, 42-35, 66-62, 85-74