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Milkmen vs. Beermen: Are we still in the 90’s?

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As fate would have it, we’ve been blessed with an old rivalry for the Philippine Cup finals, as we’ve got a throwback Finals in place, as Alaska and San Miguel will be slugging it out over the next two weeks. I can’t help but take a look at all the sub-plots that will be taking place during the series. For this week’s edition of SDL, I’ll be going through some of my favorites.

The Return of the Cabaggie

pba10 Only San Miguel can pull-off a controversial trade in the middle of a championship run. In a not-so-surprising move, the Beermen dealt Sol Mercado back to the Batang Pier for former star Alex Cabagnot, who just happened to be playing the best ball of his career.

** the PBA’s gotta be the only league in the world where you can make a trade RIGHT BEFORE the playoffs. I love this league!

So far, the move looks like a streak of genius, as SMB swept the TNT Tropang Texters in their semis matchup, with Alex Cabagnot taking reigns over the point guard position.

How good has Cabaggie been? How’s this for a stat-line during the 4-game series:

Alex Cabagnot
28.5 MPG48.7% FG46.7% 3FG%14.8 PPG5.0 RPG3.8 APG

 
Cabagnot has added a new dimension to the SMB attack, as his work on the ball screen has been exceptional. Throughout the conference, the guy’s show 52% when taking a shot off the ball screen, one of the top marks in the league.

His transition back to the Beermen has been so seamless, which is why he’s been making plays like this:

What makes him even more dangerous is that he’s got gunners like namely Lassiter, Tubid, and Lutz waiting on the wings to attack. If everyone stays home on them, he can slip in for an easy layup

The only question is how many minutes will Cabagnot play in the Finals. He already got the bulk of minutes at point guard during the semis, averaging a shade under 29 min a game. However, Ross is a better defender and could give JV Casio some fits on that side of the ball. It’ll be interesting to see what lineups Coach Leo Austria throws out there and if this will adversely affect chemistry during the series.

Minutes Management
Leo

Speaking of minutes, we’re about to see a major contrast in terms of how the coaches utilize their player’s minutes. I’ve covered this before but it’s worth bringing up again. Coach Leo relies heavily on his starters, particularly Junemar Fajardo and Arwind Santos, who both play roughly 36 minutes a game. Quite frankly, I don’t blame him – these guys just won the last two MVPs.

He also gives heavy minutes to Lassiter (30.4 mpg) and Lutz (32.7 mpg), both of whom are, as Coach Alex Compton would put it, “national team players”.

vs BlackwaterOn the other side of the table, Compton has taken a completely opposite approach, as none of Alaska’s players averaged more than 30 min per game. Casio led the way at 28.7mpg, with Calvin Abueva clocking in 26.9 mpg. This is also necessary due to Compton’s system, which relies heavily on full-court pressure all game long.

Will Austria give more minutes to his bench in anticipation of a long series? Will Compton stretch JV and Calvin’s minutes in an attempt to amp up production?

BPC Racebpc

Minutes have also played an important factor in the Best Player of the Conference race, as Fajardo and Abueva are one and two, respectively.

This is somewhat misleading however. Yes, Junemar is the single most dominant offensive weapon in terms of points per offensive possession (as pointed out in last week’s post) and yes, he’s putting up the best traditional stats in the league. But as mentioned above, he is playing nearly 9 minutes more game than Calvin.

To illustrate my point let’s take a look at these per-36 min numbers:

FG%FT%PPGRPGAPGSPGBPGTOV
Player A57.10%68.30%19.3612.611.920.302.123.13
Player B47.40%61.80%21.1415.523.881.470.805.09

 
As you can probably guess, Player A is Junemar and Player B is Calvin. Of course, this argument assumes that Calvin can maintain his per minute production even if minutes go up. But doesn’t this make his BPC case a little more convincing? On a per minute basis, he averages more points, rebounds, and assists. Steals and blocks are a wash simply because they play different roles on defense. Throw in the sheer madness that happens whenever Calvin is on the floor and he’s definitely an intriguing BPC candidate.

As much as the media will hype up the two BPC candidates, we won’t get to see them go head-to-head. Nevertheless, Abueva-Santos and Fajardo-Thoss are pretty solid matchups as well.

Junemar will probably bag the award and is definitely deserving, but this just goes to show how effective and important both Fajardo and Abueva are to their teams.

These are just a few of the intriguing story lines that will take place over the next two weeks. I can’t wait for the series to get started – we should be in for an instant classic.

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Basketball

After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose

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After a hesitant performance in their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted in a loss to the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play on Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers that the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds. MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards, and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates, as they will play right away this Thursday against the AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over their momentum.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Basketball

Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut

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Photo by PBA Images

Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who are carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard showed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of the Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what has him even more satisfied is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Football

Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar

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Photo from the-AFC.com

Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner, away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China, to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed, as Ceres started the contest on the back foot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead in the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime, thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres had already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane had accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at Ceres’ hands. That resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt in the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing room in the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion over Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres, it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac could prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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EAC

CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp

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Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to their hype, as they clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for their first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers, as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early, with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they would never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists. Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench, as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to the Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94, back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum look to continue to roll when they face the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, take on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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