Martes, Mayo 14, 2013

PBA Finals: 5 Keys for the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel

After fighting back from a twice to beat disadvantage in the quarterfinals and storming their way through a breath taking semifinal series, the Barangay is back in the finals.

Much to the delight of the millions and millions of their fans, the people's champion team proved their possession of the "never say die" heart acquired from history. After starting the Commissioner's Cup with a 0-4 slate, losing Mark Caguioa to MCL injury, and ending the eliminations on a low note, the most popular team in the nation survived hell and is back for a chance to grab another championship.

Standing on their way is the rejuvenated Alaska Aces, who are back to being bullies after topping the eliminations and dispatching the Air21 Express and San Mig Coffee Mixers in a matter of 5 games.

Coming into the finals as the underdogs, the 7th seed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel looks to live by their tradition of disposing giants en rout to a title.

How would they do it? Here are 5 keys:

1. Add sides to the triangle



Adding sides means reshaping the triangle. To make it simple, disrupt the polygon. In order to kill a giant tree, one must destroy the roots. Coach Luigi Trillo reinjected the Triangle in Alaska's system as soon as he was named head coach. The results were pretty clear. In order to beat this team, Ginebra must focus on destroying the Triangle offense by putting annoying perimeter defenders between the passing lanes to disrupt the Aces' spacing. Three of Ginebra's starters are capable of providing the needed mantle in the lane. 

LA Tenorio leads the league in steals among locals with 2.143 swipes per ballgame. When Tenorio is in the perimeter, you know no dribbler is safe. Mac Baracael is lean and tough and has quick hands against a dribble. Chris Ellis is not a starter for nothing. The reigning PBA slam dunk king makes a living on hussle. He's long and tough and can guard smaller players because of his speed. Ellis doesn't provide huge numbers but it's his work ethic that makes him a true factor in this series. Aside from these three, Coach Alfrancis Chua could use Rico Maierhoffer off the bench for triangle bending and rebounding purposes. If the Barangay succeed on this in the best of 5 final series, the field goal percentage of the Aces will surely drop, one thing that weakens the Gatas Republik.    

2. Put a body- a Hatfield body- on Calvin Abueva



The Aces don't win games with effective Triangle alone. Sometimes, in fact, a lot of times, they play out of the system and just utilize rugged basketball. And when a team has someone named Calvin Abueva, this shouldn't be a problem. The second overall pick of the last draft tops nothing stats-wise but his 11.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game are so much in effect whenever he delivers goods for his team. No those aren't just numbers. These come with factors that can't be read on paper. His energy and toughness is the Aces' main difference maker. No one could forget how he lifted Alaska back from being down 15 in their Game 3 semifinal showdown with the crowd darling SanMig Coffee Mixers. As long as Abueva beasts himself on the hardwood, Ginebra's path to a championship won't be so clear. 

Putting a body on Calvin and being honestly physical with him might solve this. If you look at Ginebra's line-up, Rudy Hatfield might be the best choice of covering the beast. He isn't the same explosive H-Bomb we saw alongside Eric Menk years ago but he makes a living by being physical and grabbing tremendous amounts of boards. Abueva is younger and a lot more tougher right now but Hatfield's experience could be the difference. Abueva has the tendency to pick up fouls when going up against physical defenders. Taming the beast can not be easily done, but minimizing his minutes might as well do the job.

Alfrancis Chua could always tap Willie Wilson if in case the H-Bomb got diffused.

3. Pull Dozier out off the shaded lane.




Robert Dozier is the last import standing from the original list of reinforcements who suited up for the Commissioner's Cup. He's unchanged for a reason. The former Memphis Tigers stalwart leads the PBA in rebounding and blocked shots with 16.2 boards and 2.7 rejections per contest. With those numbers alone, we could say that this mammoth lives in the paint. And if he dominates the inside in this series, Ginebra's chances may slim down to a hairline. 

Coach Chua could pull Dozier out of the shaded area through a couple of ways. First off is putting Vernon Macklin in front of Dozier. He just have to make sure that he stays on his feet because the opposition is a lot quicker and can hit a jumper. Macklin is huge and would cover a tremendous amount of space whenever Dozier has the ball. Macklin would have to play physical defense on Dozier to make him hit bricks. Ginebra then would have to focus on rebounding as a team.

Ginebra has players that could and must penetrate the lane. I'm talking about LA Tenorio and Chris Ellis. The draw in play could serve as a decoy to free up the perimeter and avoid Dozier's blocks in the paint, and the draw out could give points for their offense. Chua could utilize this given that Ginebra has decent shooters on their roster. 

4. Continue riding the time machine




Mark Caguioa's fall to injury was a huge slap on Ginebra's play. Not only that the flow of scoring was clogged, the sources are unidentified. 

This was until the start of the playoffs. Ginebra sent Rain or Shine home with stellar performance from Kerby Raymundo who got a sip from the fountain of youth. The past semifinals then saw the resurgence of the Fast, Jayjay Helterbrand. 

Raymundo and Helterbrand are two of the team's seniors and are two of the most effective cards on their deck. For the first time since Caguioa rested off his legs, scoring options has been distributed fairly. The addition of the Fireball Josh Urbiztondo also extended Ginebra's range on perimeter play.

But the necessary piece would be Helterbrand. His ability to score the basketball from anywhere on the court would be a sting on Alaska's defense. He would be a huge card to come off the bench and provide scoring while starters are out. Helterbrand might already passed his prime but the former MVP could still pull the trigger and score 18 points on a nightly basis, given that his team continue to do each of their jobs well.

5. Get the crowd involved




This needs no explanation at all. Playing the Ginebra way always means making the crowd their sixth men on the floor. If Ginebra wants to win this final series, they must play the Ginebra way. Full of energy and inspiration.
  



P.S.
I support the Alaska Aces on this Finals >:)

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