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Hoop Nut One on One: Predicting the Comm Cup Finals, BPC, and Best Import

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*This conversation started BEFORE the March 29, Sunday games, and ended March 30, Monday.

(March 28 evening)
Rolly Mendoza 9:00pm
The playoffs for the Commissioner’s Cup is already underway. I think it’s about time we gave our predictions for the teams who will make the Finals, the Best Player of the Conference and Best Import.

Enzo Flojo 9:38pm
ROS-PUR in the Finals, Paul Lee as BPC, and Denzel Bowles as Best Import. Book them all.

Rolly Mendoza 10:23pm
Wait a minute! Didn’t you pick Josh Davis of Meralco as the Best Import in our previous post? [READ: Is Meralco For Real?] How come you’re suddenly changing picks? Admittedly, Bowles is a solid pick. He is 2nd (PJ Ramos-1st) in Player Efficiency while 4th in scoring and 8th in rebounds. However, my pick is Ivan Johnson of TNT. Johnson is 2nd in scoring and 7th in rebounds while coming in 3rd at Player Efficiency.

Enzo Flojo 10:37pm
Davis won’t be BPC because Meralco won’t make it past the semis. Sayang. They just lost steam. IF TNT barrels through Purefoods in the semis, then, sure Johnson takes it, but I maintain that the Hotshots will go all the way and Bowles will carry them. Johnson ain’t a bad choice, though. Huwag lang siyang ma-eject or ma-technical because of bad behavior. Remember, this is a guy who was banned from the Korean Basketball League for flashing the dirty finger at a ref (here in Manila, though, doing that is tantamount to nothing more than a fine).

(March 29)
Rolly Mendoza 12:51am
Well, Meralco is still alive in the playoffs so they MIGHT make it to the Finals, but TNT and Purefoods have better chances. In any case, the Best Import might boil down between Bowles and Johnson depending on which team goes deeper. I don’t recall Johnson being ejected yet, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt that it won’t happen this conference. I also like the fact that Johnson is a tougher cover because he has three-point range while Bowles is a better rim protector.

My Finals prediction: Meralco vs TNT

Hmmm… I think the BPC is between Jayson Castro, Paul Lee and Gary David. The other candidates have already been eliminated (Slaughter, Romeo, Fajardo). My BPC is Jayson Castro. He is averaging more points, more assists than Paul Lee and (unofficially) Castro is #2 in Statistical Points while Lee is at #3.

Enzo Flojo 11:43am
Wait, so Meralco will beat NLEX and beat ROS in their side of the bracket?! Crazy! No way the Bolts can do that… not the way they’re playing and not without Cliff Hodge. Castro has great numbers, but I don’t think TNT will make the Finals. Purefoods will beat them and then that will set the stage for ROS-PUR in the championship. Paul Lee gets BPC.

Rolly Mendoza 12:09pm
Actually, Cliff Hodge was able to play recently but Jared Dillinger has been ruled out of the conference due to a MCL injury to his knee. I guess this means that the Bolts will have a slimmer chance to reach the Finals. Oh well. Haha

Anyway, it appears that our choices for the individual awards are connected to how far their teams can reach in the playoffs. Do you think reaching the Finals is a great indicator of who should be named BPC and Best Import?

Enzo Flojo 1:14pm

Yes, you’re right, Hodge is back (though not 100%) and J-Dill is out. Tsk tsk. Sayang. Now I’m not even sure they can get past NLEX. Yes, of course, it matters if one can lead his team to the Finals, especially when it comes down to whether it’ll be Castro or Lee. Right now, both are good picks, but whoever makes the Finals should have the upper hand.

Rolly Mendoza 9:48pm
So, I waited for Meralco to eliminate NLEX before replying. The Bolts are in the Final Four, and they will face Rain or Shine whom they defeated in the elimination round. I cannot wait for the semis to begin already!

Enzo Flojo 10:35pm
ROS na yan. #asa haha But good call on David. El Granada exploded on NLEX!!!

Rolly Mendoza 10:39pm
Well, I made sure that Gary David read your comments about him not being good enough to win BPC

Enzo Flojo 10:40pm
Still not good enough. Get to the Finals and we’ll talk.


Do you agree or disagree with the Hoop Nut tag team? Sound-off in our Comments Section

MORE HOOP NUT ONE ON ONE
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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’

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Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs

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It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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