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2015 PBA Governors Cup Finals Survival Kit: San Miguel Beermen vs. Alaska Aces

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[nextpage title=”2015 PBA Governors Cup Finals”]
The final stage is set, and there is no other fitting way to end the 2015 PBA season with a battle between the league’s top two squads in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

Just a few months ago, the Alaska Aces and San Miguel Beermen captivated the basketball community with an epic 7-game duel for the Philippine Cup title won by San Miguel in the dying seconds of Game 7. It was in this series where the Beermen finally erased doubt and for the Aces, despite the stinging loss, it was a series which earned them the “comeback kids” or “new NSD team” label.

The second conference was understandably a struggle for both finalists in the grueling nature of the league, but having recovered after, the two squads have been all about winning in the third conference.

The Aces and the Beermen finished 1-2 in the team standings of the PBA Governors’ Cup, doing it in contrasting ways. San Miguel was an offensive juggernaut from the get-go, with the presence of AZ Reid and an abundance of shooters and a big in June Mar Fajardo. San Miguel tops the league in offensive rating with 107.4 points per 100 possessions, and also holds the best net rating at 8.2.

Alaska comes next in net rating at 7.7, but it is the team’s suffocating defense that has propelled them to greater heights. The Aces lead the league in defensive rating, allowing only 96.1 points per 100 possessions. They also lead in turnovers forced at 16.8 per game, and is no. 3 in effective field goal (eFG) percentage allowed (46.7 percent).

Now down to the final… perhaps 7 games (for the fans!), the Aces and Beermen are looking for supremacy. A win by the Beermen shall make them the powerhouse team with the best season, while for the Aces, a win does not only erase the agony of the past but also solidifies Compton’s reputation as one of the best head coaches in the country today.

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Five things to watch out for

1. Three-point shooting
GC2015SK-Casio-Santos

San Miguel is shooting 34.2 percent from three-point land, the third-best in the league. Alaska is not far away at 33.7 percent, but the difference is the amount of threes the Beermen take per game. Thriving with space and a handful of deadly shooters, the Beermen are attempting 27.6 treys per contest compared to only 18.1 for Alaska. They are also making 9.5 threes a game, 3.4 more than the Aces. It is obvious the Beermen will also rely on that three-point shooting in this series, and they have to be super-sharp as Alaska has a ton of pesky perimeter defenders that are quick enough to counter the ball movement.

2. Banchero and the Beast
GC2015SK-Banchero-Abueva

The two locals Alaska will be needing in this series the most are: Chris Banchero and Calvin Abueva. Banchero, surprisingly, is Alaska’s top-scoring local with 10.1 PPG, and also leads the team in assists with 2.9 APG aside from his 4 RPG. This shows the depth of Compton’s roster and its anyone-can-step-up-big nature. Abueva was playing hurt to start the conference, but remains a beast on the floor with his presence and ability to secure boards at an astounding rate. His rebounding splits are 15.7/28.1/22 (the ideal for a big is 10/20/15), averaging 6.6 RPG in only 16.7 minutes per contest. He will be of big help should the Aces decide to go small ball for certain stretches in the series.

3. Cabaggie!!!

Alex Cabagnot avoids a steal attempt by Paul Lee

Alex Cabagnot avoids a steal attempt by Paul Lee

Alex Cabagnot’s shot-making ability will be needed more than ever in this series, especially against the Alaska defense which is hard to break. Cabagnot showed his driving game against Rain or Shine, including the ability to read after high ball screens and it messed the Elasto Painters’ rotation. In the semi-final, he averaged 14 PPG and 9.3 APG, doubling his assists average in the elimination round.

4. The Roman Empire
Dela-Rosa-PBA-Images
This time for Rome Dela Rosa to shine on both ends of the floor. The rookie is enjoying major minutes for the Aces this conference, and is impacting the game, whether it is pulling stops or adding to the offense. Dela Rosa attacks the basket relentlessly. More than half of his attempts have come from inside the paint, and he is shooting 70 percent from around the rim, as per HumbleBola.

5. Super Marcio
Lassiter Marcio Lassiter has a chance to end the conference with a bang. The San Miguel wing man has always been a premier scoring option for the Beermen, and this conference has been splendid for Lassiter. He averaged 20.5 PPG, 4 RPG, and 2.5 APG in the semi-final, connecting at a whopping 65 percent from beyond the arc. He is making 5 triples per contest, almost doubling his 2.6 three-point makes per game in the eliminations. Against Alaska, the Beermen will be needing all the space they can and Lassiter is their best threat from downtown.

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Import Match-upGC2015SK-Romeo-Reid

Romeo Travis (24 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.2 BPG) vs AZ Reid (28.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG)

There is a reason why the Aces and Beermen were the top teams in this import-laden conference. They have the best reinforcements. Travis and Reid are the front-runners for the Best Import distinction, and it’s because of how they fit so well in their respective teams’ systems. Travis gives Alaska a do-it-all stretch four with a face-up and back-to-basket game, and the Aces forward is deadly from mid-range. He is versatile enough to play the five too in certain stretches, making Alaska dangerous when they go small. Reid is the perfect complement to a team with June Mar Fajardo underneath. Like Travis, Reid has a post-up game, can create his own shot, and is deadly from three-point area.

X-Factors

Alaska: Sonny Thoss

Thoss will be tasked to defend Fajardo and what’s important for the Aces is the single coverage so the rest can focus on their respective assignments. If Fajardo dominates, he will attract the defense and that will most likely mess up the rotation of the Aces. With the Beermen enjoying space, it will be difficult for the Aces to fight back if they vannot contain Fajardo one on one.

San Miguel: The bench
GC2015SK-Lutz-Tubid-Ross
Alaska is an ultra-deep team that always has fresh legs on the floor. Which such unit, San Miguel should counter with production from its shock-troopers. This series is expected to be a long one, and they cannot afford their starters to wear down.

Pick

It’s San Miguel’s series to lose. They had the best winning streak in the elimination, the best import in the past two years, the best local complemented by a solid supporting crew that thrives in Leo Austria’s system. Alaska will definitely fight hard until the very end with an equally competitive cast, but the Beermen has a very slight edge in thr series.
tie5
San Miguel in 7.

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ABL

Joshua Munzon, Westsports snap Saigon’s streak in highly emotional contest

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Photo by ASEAN Basketball League

Entering Wednesday night’s game, Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat were on a high, slaying the winning streaks of Hong Kong Eastern and Nanhai Kung Fu. However, Joshua Munzon and the Westsports Malaysia Dragons had other things in mind, keeping the Heat winless at the MABA Stadium, 91-87.

In his fourth game since returning to the Dragons, Munzon filled up the stat sheet, tallying 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Besides putting up the numbers, the athletic swingman from California helped limit reigning Heritage Player of the Week Williams to his worst game so far in the ABL. Averaging 27.33 points, 6.67 assists, and 6.0 rebounds prior to this game, Williams went field goal-less against the Dragons, missing all 11 of his attempts. The Filipino-American floor general was able to dish out eight assists and grab five caroms.

Westsports led by as much as 11 points in the final frame, 82-71, after Munzon found Marcus Marshall for a triple with 4:59 remaining. Behind World Imports Akeem Scott and Maxie Esho, the Heat stormed right back but was answered by a long bomb by Munzon to keep them at bay.

Marshall and Scott figured in a shootout to close out the game but in the end, the hosts were still able to etch out their second straight victory.

Marshall finished the game with 25 points, nine assists and six rebounds for the Dragons while Scott’s 44-point game went for naught.

After the emotionally charged contest though, few unkind words were exchanged by the officials of both squads that almost resulted into a brawl. Fortunately, things did not escalate beyond that.

In the video, Munzon was also seen shoving a Saigon player to try and pacify the situation. The league is currently investigating the post-game incident.

With the win, Westsports Malaysia raised its record to 3-4 while dropping Saigon to 4-3.

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Basketball

Roger Pogoy churns best performance against former teammates

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Prior to Wednesday, all eyes were on the TNT Katropa-Blackwater Elite face-off, with many curious to see how last season’s Rookie of the Year Roger Pogoy would fare against his former FEU teammates Mac Belo and Raymar Jose.

And as the final buzzer sounded, the 25-year-old Pogoy had reigned triumphant over his close pals, getting away with a conference-best performance as a bonus.

The six-foot-two Cebuano sniper fired a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, to lead the Texters to a skid-ending, 92-83 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Must-win talaga namin ‘to para makabawi kami, kasi 1-2 na yung standing namin (before the game) eh.

“Buti na lang maganda yung nilaro ko,” said Pogoy, who was just averaging 11.3 points in the past three games.

But Pogoy tipped his hat to the much taller Elite, who enjoyed plenty of time in the driver’s seat in the first half, until the Katropa found their groove in the third canto — highlighted by a 16-3 rally that put them ahead, 60-53.

“Malakas yung Blackwater eh, tapos ang lalaki nila kaya mahirap mag-drive, mahirap pumasa kasi naagaw nila,” said Pogoy. “Buti na lang naka-adjust kami nung second half. Hindi kami nagmadali, dinahan-dahan namin.”

Aside from his own outing, Pogoy is thankful that they were able to address their fourth quarter woes when facing the Elite — the issue that hounded them in their 76-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Iloilo.

TNT had actually been mere steps away from melting down — again — against Blackwater, no thanks to a 20-9 run that wiped out their 17-point lead to just six,

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With Nash Racela knowing his tendencies, Mac Belo limited to poor shooting

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Prior to Wednesday, Blackwater Elite’s young star Mac Belo was on a roll early in the 2018 Philippine Cup, averaging exactly 20 points on 42.6 percent shooting in their games against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Ginebra.

But, as they say, good things must come to an end.

Belo, despite having 13 rebounds, was held to just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as the Elite bowed to TNT Katropa, 92-83 — a sour loss knowing that they’re coming off huge 94-77 win against Ginebra last Friday.

“Bukol,” said Belo in jest of his poor outing after the match. “Big test para sa’min kasi yung TNT talagang isang de-kalibreng team dito sa PBA.

“Talagang pinaghandaan nila kami, at gustong-gusto nila manalo.”

It also did not help that the Katropa’s head coach, Nash Racela, was his coach in FEU Tamaraws for three years — a relationship brightly highlighted by a championship run in the UAAP Season 78 back in 2015.

“Siyempre alam niya yung mga tendencies ko. Matagal ko siyang coach sa FEU,” said the 6-foot-4 forward.

“Sa akin naman, kailangan ko pa matuto sa ganun, kung anong mga defense binabato niya sakin. Kailangan ko pang pag-aralan.”

But for Belo, the loss was more than his own showing. The 25-year-old lamented his and the Elite’s lapses on defense, which was encapsulated by the second half collapse they had that allowed TNT to come back and steal the win.

“Medyo marami lang kaming lapses especially sa defense namin,” said the sophomore forward, as they allowed TNT to shoot 41.6 percent from the floor. “Maraming mga miscommunication na kailangan pa namin i-work.”

Belo and the Elite are now set to move on from this bitter defeat, as they all shift their sights in their match this Friday versus GlobalPort Batang Pier. For the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, it is already a must-win for them.

“Kailangan namin ng rest ngayon kasi back-to-back games kami. We need to win sa Friday para okay sa’min,” said Belo. “Kailangan din namin paghandaan kasi galing sila sa win.

“Kailangan namin i-double yung effort namin.”

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought

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For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached kicks from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers Roberto Corsame in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made its intentions clear from the get-go as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, at the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they much deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro—mentored side continued to play aggressive in the following period and almost plucked a second one. This time, the Chiefs’ backline led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte held on.

Such stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag at the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly and slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” closed Vicen.

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