Defense Wins it for Ginebra! Spoiled Grand Slam Hope of SMB

Ginebra enters the semifinals after dominance against the Beermen

Greg Slaughter helped contained the Kraken’s offensive output. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
This is the quarterfinal match-up that everyone wanted to see. You see, this match-up will decide which reign will end. On one side, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings want to make it a back-to-back Governors’ Cup titles. For the San Miguel Beermen, a win here will extend their season and keep their chances of winning a rare Grand Slam. There are many things that are at stake in this specific game. And by the way, we got to see another battle between two Cebuano giants in Greg Slaughter and June Mar Fajardo.
The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings anchored on their defense to frustrate the San Miguel Beermen, leading to a 104-84 victory which saw the Beermen’s hopes for a Grand Slam crumbled down to Earth. In effect, the Gin Kings will now have to wait for the winner of the do-or-die game between the TNT KaTropa and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Both the Gin Kings and the Beermen immediately went to work on offense right after the tip-off which saw the lead switched hands multiple times before the 1st quarter ended with a tie, at 23 apiece. Justin Brownlee scored the first points of the Gin Kings in the second quarter on a three-pointer as Ginebra opted to throw double teams on Fajardo every time he had the ball on offense which resulted in contested shots or turnovers. Brownlee added another trey to put the Gin Kings up by 9, at 34-25 with under 9 minutes to play in the quarter. Nothing went well on the Beermen’s offense as they were either blocked by Ginebra’s big men, forced into difficult shots or turnovers. San Miguel went without scoring a single point during the 5-minute span that Ginebra went on an 8-0 run until Terrence Watson scored on a jumper to end the dry spell with under 5 minutes before the halftime break.
At the half, the Gin Kings were up, 45-32 and part of that success can be associated with Brownlee’s performance which produced 20 points while making all 4 three-point attempts. But, it was Ginebra’s defense in the second quarter which made life miserable for the Beermen who were only limited to 9 points during the entire quarter. Fajardo on the other side, had 9 points on 4 of 8 field goal shooting although he had 11 rebounds to his name. No bench players from Leo Austria’s team has scored during the first 24 minutes of action as compared to the 6 bench points of Ginebra.
Just like they did in the second quarter, the Gin Kings opened the second half with another three-pointer, this time from LA Tenorio.  Unlike in the second quarter where they struggled to score, the Beermen were able to cut down a double-digit deficit to 9 after June Mar Fajardo added another 2-point field goal, forcing Tim Cone to yell for a timeout with 7:02 to go in the quarter. The Beermen’s’s incapability to sustain a scoring was what one of the many things which kept them behind as Ginebra found a wide variety of ways to score which included a dunk by Brownlee in the dying seconds of the 3rd as the Gin Kings entered the final quarter with the lead, 74-61.
Ginebra, again began a quarter with a pair of treys that increased their lead to 17 during the first few possessions of the 4th quarter.  Scottie Thompson added another lay-up off a steal which increased the lead, 86-65 with under 8 minutes to go and Ginebra went on unthreatened during the rest of quarter. The lead went up as high as 30 after Thompson drained a trey approaching the two-minute mark as Japeth Aguilar added another dunk.
Justin Brownlee had 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead Ginebra as they moved on into the semifinals. Joe Devance added 17 points while the twin tower of Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter finished with 13 points each.  Scottie Thompson only had 7 points on 3 of 13 shooting but was a monster in the rebounding battle as he tallied 13 rebounds, 8 of them are offensive rebounds. As a team, Ginebra made 49% of their shot attempts including 50% from the three-point territory.  Bench scoring also helped the Gin Kings as they outscored their counterparts, 22-9.
Unfortunately for the San Miguel Beermen, nothing clearly went their way. They turned the ball over 20 times which the Gin Kings converted into 22 points off those turnovers. San Miguel shot poorly from beyond the arc as they only made 9 of their 20 attempts from that area.  Terrence Watson finished his tenure with the Beermen with 30 points and 22 rebounds. Fajardo, the leading MVP candidate this season, finished with 19 points while Marcio Lassiter added 13.

Scores:

Ginebra – 104
Brownlee 37, Devance 17, J. Aguilar 13, Slaughter 13, Marcelo 9 Tenorio 8, Thompson 7, Helterbrand 0, Ferrer 0, Jamito 0, Cruz, Mariano 0, Caguioa 0, R. Aguilar 0, Taha 0

San Miguel – 84
Watson 30, Fajardo 19, Lassiter 13, Cabagnot 8, Santos 6, Ross 5, Espinas 3, Heruela 0, McCarthy 0, Pessumal 0, Reyes 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Agovida 0, Semerad 0, Tubid 0, de Ocampo 0

Quarterscores:

23-23, 45-32, 74-61, 104-84

3 Things Ginebra Needs to Do to Beat SMB

These things will help Ginebra against SMB

Guarding June Mar Fajardo is already a daunting task for Ginebra. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Over the weekend, both the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and the San Miguel Beermen lost their respective games to end the elimination round which explains their positions heading into their higly-anticipated quarterfinal match-up.

The Gin Kings had the chance to go for the number 1 spot but the Talk N Text Katropa denied the crowd darlings and instead, Ginebra was relegated to 3rd place.

On the other hand, the Beermen had the chance to finish in the Top 4 and get that twice-to-beat advantage but thanks to a stunning defeat at the hands of the Meralco Bolts which saw the Bolts come back from an 18-point hole, June Mar Fajardo and the rest of the Beermen fell to 6th place and have to beat the Gin Kings, twice, to be able to move on to the semifinals which will keep their hopes for a grand slam alive.

For the Gin Kings who are aiming for a back-to-back Governors’ Cup championships, a win against their sister team on Wednesday will enable them to prepare for whoever they will face come the semifinals. However, we all have to keep in mind that San Miguel has already beaten Ginebra earlier this month when Terrence Watson made his debut in a game where he scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Beerman to a 107-103 victory over Ginebra last September 10. That victory halted the Gin Kings’ 7-game winning streak.

Now, equipped with the twice-to-beat incentive, the Gin Kings know that letting the Beermen build up any form of confidence when the two teams clash anew come Wednesday is not an option because whether we like it or not, the Beermen have been in this situation where they needed to win successive games against a team. Remember? They won 4 straight against the Alaska Aces in the Finals to win the championship after being down 0-3. So, winning two straight game is, let’s say more doable for a team of the Beermen’s calibre.

If you’re Tim Cone, you wouldn’t think about having the twice-to-beat edge. If Ginebra wants a longer rest before the semifinals, dealing with the Beermen in one game is a must. Below are the three important things that Justin Brownlee, Japeth Aguilar and the rest of the Gin Kings need to do come Wednesday:

Defend

As they all say, “Defense wins championships” and since they are the defending champions for this conference, the Gin Kings must rely on their defense if they want any hopes of stopping Watson or at the very least, June Mar Fajardo who is playing like an import for San Miguel. However, one strength of the Beermen that Ginebra needs to overcome is that the team of Coach Leo Austria is also loaded with long-distance snipers who can drop threes especially when left unguarded. They have guys like Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter and even Arwind Santos who can make those long jumpers as if they’re only lay-ups.

Even though San Miguel is only making 19% of their attempts from rainbow country during the elimination round, Ginebra should make sure that they defend the shooters of San Miguel. And, don’t forget to defend Fajardo as well. Basically, choosing between sending a double-team or even a triple-team to defend Fajardo and, closing in on the shooters is a gamble and a headache for any team who is facing San Miguel and that what makes them the best all-local team that we have in the league right now.

Contribute

There’s simply no way Ginebra can eliminate the Beermen when only two players doing the job as we saw in Ginebra’s loss to TNT where only Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar scored in double figures. They are dealing with a San Miguel team which has the best starting unit to begin with and they have the best player in the league in June Mar Fajardo.

The rest of the Gin Kings must find a way to contribute in other way when they are struggling offensively. For starters, LA Tenorio’s leadership on the floor will be needed so is the athleticism of Scottie Thompson. Greg Slaughter also needs to find a way to make his presnece felt to take off some defensive pressure away from Brownlee and Aguilar. And speaking of Aguilar, he has to score more points now that he has ended a series of scoreless games which can benefit the Gin Kings because this will mean that Brownlee won’t need to take majority of the scoring load.

Live the “Never Say Die” Mentality

With or without the twice-to-beat edge, Ginebra must remain hungry for the win no matter how challenging the task of defending and defeating San Miguel. Ginebra has been known, loved and even hated for their “Never Say Die” mentality which means that they never give up against all odds.

If anything, Wednesday will be the perfect time for the Gin Kings to go back to that mentality because playing against a deadly team like San Miguel will require more than just the talents and skills. It requires the heart to go on fighting and when it comes to this, no better team does this other than Ginebra, right?

Durham, Bolts Erase 18-point Lead, Stun SMB

Meralco Claims Number 1 Spot after Comeback Win

Jared Dillinger scored 16 points off the bench to spark the Bolts’ comeback. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

The good news for the Meralco Bolts is, they only need to win their final game to claim the number 1 spot entering the quarterfinals. The bad news is, they needed to do it against a San Miguel team which they haven’t beaten since 2015.
Nope. Not this time around, Beermen. The Meralco Bolts came back from an 18-point deficit to claim the number 1 spot after stunning the San Miguel Beermen, 104-101.
Hoping to continue their mastery of the Bolts, the San Miguel Beermen jumped to a double-digit lead early on. The Bolts were struggling to get anything going in their offense as the Beermen’s defense continuously forced them into committing turnovers which the Beerman would convert into points on the other end.Throughout the 2nd quarter, the Bolts were struggling miserably as they shot only 37% in the field including a 27% 3-point shooting.
San Miguel for their part, shot way better in the field, making 47% of their shot attempts in the first half including 53% from the 2-point area. The lead went down at 8 after a Baser Amer lay-up with 66 seconds left before halftime. On the ensuing possession, Marcio Lassiter nailed a trey to put the lead back to double-digits. June Mar Fajardo already had 10 points by halftime. So is Marcio Lassiter. So is import Terrence Watson. Meanwhile, Allen Durham did have 10 points but was continuously struggling to make his shots against the suffocating defense of the Beermen which forced him to make only 4 of his 13 attempts in the first 24 minutes of action.
The Beermen continued pouring in the points in the shaded area to start off the 3rd quarter with Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot.Chris Ross who went scoreless in San Miguel’s previous game, another 3-pointer a few possessions later and a shot by Fajardo put the lead up to 17, forcing Norman Black to call a timeout 3 minutes into the quarter.  Fajardo later added another dunk after a bad pass by the Bolts player.
S0an Miguel’s lead then ballooned to 18 points after a jumper by Watson. Meralco tried to chip away at the lead as Mike Tolomia scored on a lay-up to bring the lead down to 16 but the Beermen were able to answer every basket that the Bolts made. Meralco came back roaring as they cut down the lead to 10 with a trey from Tolomia with less than 2 minutes to play in the 3rd. San Miguel brought a 12-point lead coming into the final quarter.
A goaltending violation against San Miguel cut down the Beermen’s lead to 7 in the opening minutes of the fourth as Reynel Hugnatan nailed a jumper to furthermore bring down the lead to just 5, forcing San Miguel Coach Leo Austria to call time.

After back-to-back made baskets by Fajardo, Allen Durham another trey with under 6 minutes on the clock only to be answered by another basket by Fajardo. A pair of charities by Cliff Hodge brought Meralco within 2 with under 5 minutes to play.

After the Beermen increased their lead back to 9, Meralco charged back right away, just trailing 96-92 with under 3 minutes to go until Jared Dillinger drained another trey cut down the lead just to 1. After a Watson basket, Amer scored on another three-pointer to tie the game at 98 apiece with 1:24 to go. Durham gave Meralco its first taste of the lead on a driving lay-up against Fajardo with under a minute to play. Chris Ross answered right back with another trey to give the Beermen a 101-100 lead heading into the final 40 seconds. Durham scored on his own missed shot to put his team back up 102-101 with under 28 seconds remaining.

San Miguel still had one more chance to take the lead but Fajardo’s shot was heavily contested and Meralco was able to grab the ensuing rebound and call an all-important timeout with 4 seconds on the clock. Durham added two more free throws as San Miguel ran out of time on the other end.

Allen Durham led the way for the Bolts with his 35 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Dillinger added 16 while Chris Newsome finished with 14 points. Baser Amer also contributed 13 points. For the losing team, Fajardo had 26 points to go along with his 8 rebounds. Terrence Watson and Marcio Lassiter had 18 points each while Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross finished with 16 and 10 respectively.

While the starters of San Miguel produced their usual numbers, it was the bench scoring that allowed Meralco to mount a comeback and eventually, helped them win the game.

Scores:
Meralco – 104
Durham 35, Dilinger 16, Newsome 14, Amer 13, Hodge 8, Tolomia 8, De Ocampo 6, Hugnatan 2, Nabong 2, Atkins 0, Yeo 0, Lanete 0, Sedurita 0, Caram 0, Faundo 0
San Miguel – 101
Fajardo 26, Watson 18, Lassiter 18, Cabagnot 16, Ross 10, Santos 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Espinas 3, Heruela 0, McCarthy 0, Pessumal 0, Reyes  0, Agovida 0, Tubid 0, de Ocampo 0
Quarter scores:
19-31, 39-51, 69-81,104-101 
Jared Dilinger scored 16 points off the bench to spark the Bolts’ comeback. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)