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. 

By the Numbers: 3 "SAYANG" Numbers that Star Threw Away

Had Star won, these would have been the reasons why

Mark Barroca was 2 assists shy of a triple-double. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

If you were fortunate to watch last night’s Game 3 of the best-of-5 semifinal series between the Star Hotshots and the Finals-bound Meralco Bolts, then you can just imagine the feeling of regret that Star Hotshots Coach Chito Victolero is feeling right now. 
Let’s just put it this way: the Hotshots were down double digits on multiple occasions. They were able to get back into the game and even take the lead in the 4th quarter. They were just 1 defensive stop away from extending this series to a Game 4 but the Bolts were able to score right back and the moment the extra period began, that was when the Hotshots began to falter as the Bolts held Star scoreless for almost 4 minutes in the extra period and by time the Hotshots managed to score, time was no longer on their side. 
And mind you, folks, Star almost won without Paul Lee and with Kris Acox only producing 4 points during the entire game. Given how close the final score was, Star fans can only say, “Sayang!”

The “SAYANG” Numbers:

8 Steals

If anything, we can only appreciate the defensive efforts of the Hotshots for making life difficult for the Bolts. They made Meralco bleed it out unlike in the first two games of the series where Meralco had a double-digit lead by endgame. Those 8 steals were proof that if Star had played D the way they did last night during the first two games, the series would have had a different look by now. Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon had 3 each of those 8 steals

12 Second Chance Points

This was probably one of the biggest advantages Star had against the Bolts all night long. They outmuscled the Meralco rebounders to grab offensive boards and score 12 points off their own misses. In fact, if Star managed to score in one of those offensive rebounds during the dying seconds of regulation, they would have won the game. 

Mark Barroca’s 21 Points

Perhaps the only one who deserves to feel bad was Mark Barroca. Why? 21 points. 12 rebounds including 4 on the offensive end. 8 assists. 3 steals. A block. This is the Mark Barroca that we always know after all those years. Sure, he missed 15 of his 22 shots just to produce 21 points but what can he do? His teammates were missing. Their import’s performance was miserable. Paul Lee was absent, for good. After last night’s performance, can we all agree that Mark Barroca deserves our praise, right?
As painful as it is to hear especially for Star fans, they are done for the season, unfortunately. But this latest semifinal exit, their 3rd this season, can only make them better as they will use this setback to motivate themselves and hopefully, improve come next season.

By the Numbers: 4 Things That Went Wrong for the Slumping Star

Because basically, everything did go wrong for the Hotshots

Here are the four main reasons to their demise however

Mark Barroca was the lone starter who scored in double figures. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
If you watched last night’s Game 2 of the best-of-5 semifinal series between the Meralco Bolts and the Star Hotshots, then you can just imagine how frustrated Chito Victolero is right now. 
To begin with, Victolero was already frustrated with how the referees handled the game which saw 21 fouls called against the Bolts and 18 against the Hotshots. The Bolts on the other hand, were able to regain their dominant selves as they continuously pounded in on the Hotshots’ struggles on both ends of the court as they are ONE win away from another Finals appearance after a 98-74 victory last night. 
With Game 3 happening tomorrow, with their season on the line, the Star Hotshots have a choice: Improve or, go on an early vacation.
To help you explain the frustrations of Chito Victolero and the rest of the Star coaching staff, this basketball pundit listed down the numbers that doomed the Hotshots against the league-leading Bolts:

0 – Zero Points for Star Guards

Let’s start with the simplest reason why Star lost last night. Paul Lee had 0 points. So was Jio Jalalon. So was PJ Simon. Lee, for one, only attempted one field goal that missed and was taken out of the game the rest of the way, playing for barely 4 minutes. Jalalon, another bench trooper who was supposed to be backing up Mark Barroca, went 0 of 6 in the field. The result: the Star Hotshots still have 0 WINS in this series.

1 – Only One from the Rainbow Country

Another reason why the Meralco Bolts were able to run away from the Hotshots early on was the fact that Star, as a team, only made ONE of their 8 three-point attempts in the first half. That player who made that lone long-distance bomb was the journeyman, Aldrich Ramos who finished with 8 points in 15 minutes of action. 
By endgame, the Hotshots finished with a horrible outing from beyond the arc, making 7 of their 24 shots from that area. In addition to this, only ONE starter managed to score in double figures and that starter was none other than Mark Barroca who led the Hotshots with 16 points. The result: Star is ONE loss away from another early vacation.

5 – Five Fast-break Points, Not too fast  

Unlike in the early stages of Game 1 when Star was able to run and score on the break, the Hotshots only scored 5 fast break points during the entire Game 2, another visible sign that they weren’t in sync all game long. In addition to this, Star’s defense allowed 5 Meralco players to score in double figures, led by Allen Durham, Jared Dillinger and Ranidel De Ocampo who all scored 18 points apiece. Baser Amer and Chris Newsome provided the spark in the backcourt with their 16 and 10 points respectively. 

9 – The horrible performance of Acox

One player who was visibly struggling in both games was none other than Star import, Kris Acox. In Game 2, Acox only managed 9 points on another 4 of 12 field goal shooting. If Star wants to extend this series into a Game 4, they will need Acox to escape that horrible shooting slump that he endured in the first two games of the series and score more because if not, Allen Durham will continue to “eat” Acox alive every time they slug it out in the court.