Balls-Eye: Will June Mar Fajardo Bag his 5th Straight MVP Award this Season?

June Mar Fajardo shooting over Sonny Thoss

As the San Miguel Beermen looks to dominate this year’s Philippine Cup with their geared up twin towers, the Kraken June Mar Fajardo is also eyeing to reign as a 5-time MVP.

But would it still be possible?

Rumors say that Christian Standhardinger empowered the Beermen. But with him being Fajardo’s partner, would he hinder the Kraken’s MVP streak?
Another huge monster to test June Mar’s limits is of course the biggest man in the league Greg Slaughter. Ginebra is a team that can win championships and thus increasing Slaughter’s chance of bagging the MVP award this year.
More or less, the Most Valauable Player Award would be hooked by any of the four towering beasts of the Beer and Gin. It would be an ultimate test of strength, endurance, power and most importantly, consistency.
June Mar apparently is the toughest of the four. Greg has the size but is a bit lousy, Japeth has the boosted jumping power while Standhardinger’s cards remain concealed.
Fajardo already became MVP 4 times with Japeth and Greg’s presence. The only big question mark left unanswered is on his new teammate Standhardinger. Nevertheless, we should not neglect Japeth and Greg’s improvement.

Would the MVP showdown hinder SMB’s success?

Most probably not. Big guys do not tend to frequently work together. Most of the time plays start with the small guys and finishes with the big men. SMB may balance their inside scoring fairly with their two towers. Thus, both would have their own break to prove themselves. It may be a healthy competition as these two guys would go all out just not to waste every single opportunity at hand.

Historical MVP Award

If either June Mar or Christian bags the award, it would be historical no matter who stands out. June Mar would be the first to be crowned with 5 straight MVP’s. In fact he’s the first to have 4 straight. On the other hand, Standhardinger may be the 2nd to Benjie Paras if he would be the MVP and if SMB would be the champ or would gain dominance throughout the season.

Balls-Eye: Baracael, Yeo Must be Back to Barangay Ginebra

Mac Baracael Passing through Justin Melton
Gin Kings offense could not rely solely on the twin towers anymore. One season is enough for the big men to carry the whole team to a championship.
San Miguel Beermen possesses a huge threat and is looking to unleash a 5-peat Philippine Cup Reign. Ginebra needs a pack of outside gunners to match SMB’s current form.
Seasons ago, Ginebra had Mac Baracael and Joseph Yeo. Two guys that can smoothly deliver outside. But they didn’t win a title with these two. Now is the time for them to go back to the Never Say Die Barangay and help them overthrow the undisputed all Filipino Champs San Miguel Beermen.


Of All People, Why Yeo and Baracael?

1. Gameplan Familiarity

They’d played for Ginebra before, Ginebra has no time for adjustments so they need players who already know how or is familiar with their team play.

2. SMB’s Shooter Neutralizer

SMB’s got some best clutch shooters like Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross. Ginebra needs to have some source that can be of the same level with these guys to keep up. Remember, the fire in the shaded area is so huge. The twin towers’ stamina would deplete twice as fast when against each other. Outside gunners shall provide a huge extra boost for the team.

3. Improved Slasher Gunner Combination and Rotation

The only guy who can cut as fast as Chris Ross currently is Sol Mercado while Ginebra’s main three-pointer is Kevin Ferrer. With the addition of Baracael and Yeo, the rotation would increase efficiency as the bench’s usefulness deepens.

Conclusion

When there are too much pressure and difficulty to manipulate inside, another key is to attack from the outside. Baracael hits threes especially the corner ones at high percentage and Yeo, on the other hand could match Ross’ speed and agility. Thus, these two coming back could give Ginebra the dagger needed to slay the reigning SMB.


Mac Baracael Highlights

Twin Tower Era: Who’s Magnolia Hotshots’ Trump Card?

Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter
Despite Magnolia’s loss on Christmas Classico, it turned out to be a healthy one. They seem to have drawn a trump card concealed inside their deep deck. A duo who could stop and counter the force of the threatening era of the twin towers of San Miguel and of course their recent opponent, Brgy Ginebra.
Facing the Brgy Ginebra squad is and will always be an ultimate test of character. Talking about Greg and Japeth combination, the shaded area seems to be preoccupied all the time due to this enormous beasts.
However, the Hotshots somehow kept up with the very dense Ginebra interior. The wall-like defense of the twin towers became the key for Hotshots to unlock their hidden weapon that could match the towers.

Smaller but still with power

Who can be able to stop the Pinoy Sakuragi Marc Pingris whenever he post-ups. He’s a great match against Japeth Aguilar despite the height disadvantage. Ping just outwits size with strength and agility. Another good thing about Pingris is that he could deliver one-handed floaters — a great way to shoot over huge players.

How about Gregzilla?

Slaughter might be the biggest player but still, he’s not the only big man existing in the league. Magnolia’s roster has a smaller but way faster and athletic player. Ian Sangalang hustled in their recent game both offensively and defensively.
What’s Sangalang’s advantage over Slaughter?
If Slaughter’s advantage were size, Sangalang’s got the speed. He could run in transition and finish fast breaks. In addition, fast breaks are twin towers’ weakness due to the high pace of the transition which they commonly could not keep up. Therefore, Sangalang can be considered the biggest man in terms of transition baskets.

Conclusion

You may never win in a head to head battle against players way bigger than you are but there is always some weak points that when taken advantage of, will be very effective and fatal. The key to outplaying the twin towers is through individual agility and team’s high offensive pace.

THE BEST PHOTOS: SMB Defeated Ginebra, Clenched Philippine Cup Trophy

The Kraken raising the throphy

Three times straight Philippines Cup Champion San Miguel Beerman

Emotional moment for Ross and Cabagnot

Fajardo and Ross hugging like BFF

Philippine Cup Runner-up Ginebra Gin Kings

Coach Leo is extremely proud 

Ross MVP again

More photos here: PHOTOS: SMB def. Ginebra, clenched Philippine Cup trophy

With Lassiter Ejected and Fajardo Limited: SMB Still Fought Well in a Losing Effort

SMB expected a tough crowd coming to Lucena. They realize as well that most of the people are going to cheer for Ginebra. What they did not see coming was the surging Barangay Ginebra in the first half leaving them shocked and seemingly unprepared for the sudden offensive prowess of the Gin Kings in the first half of game 2.
At the end of first half it was 67 – 43. A big 24 point deficit.
The crowd who was majority Ginebra fans were celebrating early. Ginebra had a sudden collapse in the 3rd quarter allowing SMB to score 39 points while they only registered 18 points. It was a disappointing 3rd quarter for the Gins fans. On the other hand though, it was a show of resilience by the San Miguel Beermen.
They are not the top seed and the defending champ for nothing. Tim Cone acknowledged that SMB in not likely to stop until the buzzer. Even if SMB had a series of foul troubles and bad luck with Lassiter being ejected and Fajardo scoring just 10 points, their team fought till the end. 

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Fajardo was a non-factor as Ginebra clogged down on him on defense all game long.
On a positive note however, SMB showed that they don’t cave under pressure and they have weapons even without Lassiter and Fajardo. Arwind Santos and Ronald Tubid carried SMB late in the ball game and both players almost carried the team to a win.
Ginebra did get a lucky bounce late in the 4th that sent the game to overtime and Ginebra continued in their streak to ultimately close out game 2.

Game 3 is on Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The scores:
GINEBRA 124 – Aguilar 23, Ferrer 21, Thompson 18, Devance 16, Tenorio 15, Mercado 11, Ellis 8, Marcelo 6, Cruz 4, Taha 2.

SAN MIGUEL 118 – Santos 23, Lassiter 21, Ross 16, Tubid 16, Cabagnot 13, Espinas 13, Fajardo 10, Heruela 4, De Ocampo 2, Agovida 0, Reyes 0.

Quarterscores: 28-20, 67-43, 85-82, 110-110, 124-118.

Unsung Hero of Game 2: Joe Devance Playing in Pain

What is the definition of a hero?
Sometimes, it’s someone who saves the day, sometimes it’s Joe Devance.
After a disheartening game 1 loss to the San Miguel Beermen, the team was probably left wondering if they can really triumph against the mammoth that is SMB. It was really horrible for Ginebra from start to finish that night. The score was wrapped up at 109 – 82. 
Is it a mismatch?
Ginebra answered that question early as they surprised SMB with a scorching start and making a statement scoring 67 points in the first half and rousing the big crowd inside the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena at yesterday’s game. We thought it could be an easy victory for the Barangay until the Kings helplessly staggered in the third quarter allowing the Beermen to catch up.

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That’s when the Kings needed someone to step up.
Joe Devance was that guy nailing 3-pointers in the crucial minutes of the game and taking it upon himself to make a move in the dying seconds of the game to take it to overtime. The score did not come easy as he was blocked from behind and had to pick up the ball and release it again on time for the buzzer. What a presence of mind.
Although responsible for some critical errors, he fought back and never lost his compusure. He has shown his never die spirit and without Joe Devance Ginebra may have faltered that day.
Joe Devance ended up with 16 points, 7 out of 10 shooting from the field and 7 rebounds.

Joe Devance Game routine, Injection for his plantar fasciatis

Joe Devance is the real hero of game 2!

Watch Joe Devance buzzer beater shot in game 2:

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1 win away from the crown as Ginebra outlasted Meralco in Game 5

8 year championship drought might end on Wednesday as Ginebra Gin Kings outlasted Meralco Bolts 92 – 81 and take a commanding 3 – 2 series advantage.

Ginebra started the game like a house on fire as they were able to establish a huge 21 point lead mid 2nd quarter.

But Meralco was able to cut the lead several times into a single digit in the third quarter and come in close distance to Ginebra.

The final quarter was a helter skelter as Meralco tried to make a huge comeback. They were able to reduce the lead into 5 points but a clutch 3 points from Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson sealed the deal for Ginebra.

Meralco though had a big chance of inching closer but the referee failed to see the travelling violation made by Sol Mercado with a minute to go which Ginebra converted to a 3-point.


Ginebra was led by Justin Bronwlee and Japeth Aguilar with 29 points and 16 points while Meralco was led by Allen Durham and Reynel Hugnatan with 20 and 17 points respectively.

The scores:

GINEBRA 92 – Brownlee 29, Aguilar 16, Devance 11, Caguioa 8, Mercado 8, Tenorio 7, Thompson 5, Cruz 2.

MERALCO 81 – Durham 20, Hugnatan 17, Hodge 10, Newsome 10, Alapag 8, Uyloan 6, Al-Hussaini 4, Amer 4, Nabong 2, Caram 0, Faundo 0.

Quarterscores: 33-19, 54-39, 73-59, 92-81