Nobody anticipated a semifinals match-up between the two most popular squads in the league but thankfully, they managed to make it.
So, let us checked the three factors that will decide this series.
Allein Maliksi If Ginebra wants to emerge as the winner of this encounter, limiting Maliksi is a must. The biggest difference of a great shooter from a great scorer is, you always need to look out for the shooter even if he doesn't have the ball. That makes a shooter, harder to stop. If Ginebra cannot deny Maliksi from his current accuracy, 47%, he will magnify the offense of Star and turn it into an unstoppable force.
Ball Protection One weapon that helped Star win seven of their last nine games was their ability to steal the ball. They hawked 8.9 balls per game, #1 in the league, and Ginebra averaged 19.0 turnovers per game, fifth most in the league. That is a pretty bad news to the two main ball-handlers of Ginebra, Mercado and Tenorio, because they averaged a total of 5.4 turnovers per game.
If Star can be successful in forcing those turnovers, it will put more pressure to the point guards of Ginebra who provides 80% of their playmaking.
Scottie Thompson Believe it or not but Scottie hauled 10.4 rebounds per game. In a seven games series, you cannot allow a guard to be of a huge help in terms of rebounding. If he gets into his groove, that will be a wrinkle that could disrupt the flow and plan of Star. Also, Ginebra plays a very slow-paced which means the better their rebounding, the more control they have in the pace of the game.
Here is a fast rundown of the recent news and rumors in the PBA universe.
NEWS F*ck!ng Love: Coach Yeng assure his squad that the a huge volume of curses is still on the way NLEX suffered a disgraceful defeat on the hands of Star. Coach Yeng made sure that they will feel it. And when asked about it, coach Yeng said, " Marami pa silang makikitang ganun, marami pa silang mararamdaman na ganun, and marami pa silang sigaw at murang maririnig sa akin, hanggang matuto sila... That’s how you build the toughness, mental toughness particularly. That’s how I take care of my players. I told them it’s up to them. ‘If you cannot handle this, the door is wide open. If you can handle this, then maybe you can learn something."
The second part was very interesting. It means, we can assume that the players that they will trade in the future did not managed coach Yeng's style. One thing for sure though, coach Yeng's style is proven.
Not yet a Beast: Calvin is not 100%, yet Alaska got their first W at the expense of Globalport and Calvin led them with his 22 points, 11 rebounds and 2 steals production. The amazing thing is “I’m okay but there are still times that it still hurts. But I need to play to contribute offensively and defensively.”
So, Calvin is already that productive but he is not a beast, yet. It will be interesting to see him, once he reach his 100% health.
Maybe this time: Jeric Teng will sign with Mahindra Jeric confirmed to Spin.ph that he will be playing for Mahindra this conference. The contract is not yet done but he is sure about playing in their game against the Beermen. He said, "They called me to practice with them. I practiced with them earlier. I think they wanted me to play this Sunday. Yun ang pagkakasabi sa akin."
It is easy to say that Teng is a bust because of what transpired in his time with the Elasto Painters but mind you, he is only 25 years old. He is still younger than some of the rookies this season. The potential is still there and the opportunity will finally be there.
RUMOR the reason behind?: Was James Yap traded due to political reason? Factuality Meter: 30%
According to the #1 source of rumors, one of the possible primary reason why Star traded James was his association with Francis Zamora. Zamora run for mayor-ship in San Juan and he bow down to Guia Gomez, part of the Estrada family.
Ramon Ang and the Estradas has been supporting each other for a while so the possibility is really there. But, the support of James to Zamora was not publicized that much. I am not even sure if majority of his fans knew about it. The possibility is there but I cannot buy it.
In just two weeks, each team has interesting performances to talk about.
MAHINDRA - Alex Mallari As expected, Mallari will be the best player of Mahindra this season. He is currently contributing 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds. He is very good in finishing around the rim and that has help him have a 43.9% efficiency, so far. He should really focus in getting to the rim instead of trying midrange shots.
BLACKWATER - Mac Belo Belo is mesmerizing. He plays the game with calmness and poise that we should not see in a rookie. Belo has taken the mantle as the main man of this young group as he average 21 points, 8 rebounds and 61.8% FG. That 61.8% really signals how intelligent Mac is. He really makes the people around him better.
NLEX - Sean Anthony Believe it or not but coach Yeng let one of his player average 30 minutes a game in their first two matches and that guy is Sean Anthony. Sean is producing 18 points, 11 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 55% FG per game. I think, coach Yeng loves the energy, hustle, toughness and consistency that he brings into the court. I think, coach Yeng mandated him to finish more plays instead of creating for others. We will see if he can sustain his efficiency.
TNT - Matthew Ganuelas-Rosser Someone had to take the PG minutes that Jayson Castro leave in their first two games, Matthew was up for the task and he filled the stat sheet with 8.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. One thing that really amazes me about him in their first three games was his defense. He is really an elite lockdown defender. If you have time, watch him hound John Pinto in the first few minutes of their game against the Elite.
GINEBRA - Joe Devance In my opinion, Joe Devance is one of the biggest what if in the history of the league. What if his path never cross coach Tim's path, what kind of player he could had been? Devance produced 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5.5 assists in their first two games, a great testament to his versatility. I still remember some glimpses of his Alaska days when he was the main man and the plays run through him. He was really great back then.
SAN MIGUEL - June Mar Fajardo I know. Talking about Fajardo's dominance is kind of boring already but man, he is averaging 22.3 points and 20.7 rebounds per game! His rebounding ability has vastly improved this season. His positioning is much better and he was going for the ball more. I am already willing to bet that he will end this conference, averaging more than 15 boards per game.