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Stats Don’t Lie: Is Chris Lutz due for a breakout season?

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After starting the season on a solid 4-1 note, the San Miguel Beermen look like a legit contender for the All-Filipino Cup. Their setback against Alaska (which could have gone either way) nonwithstanding, the Beermen have played solid basketball on both sides of the court, as newly-installed head coach Leo Austria has found a nice balance between his team’s stars to share the ball.

For SMB fans, one of the bigger questions is whether or not this will translate to a breakout season for one of the team’s younger stars, namely Chris Lutz. Lutz seemed to disappear at times the past two years amidst the shuffle of coaches at the Petron – SMB franchise but now that Austria is at the helm, some are hoping that he can finally find an expanded role in SMB’s offense.

After exploding into his start after his stint at Gilas, Lutz’ numbers have been mediocre the past two seasons, although this isn’t entirely his fault. First, as mentioned above, he’s seen his role yanked left and right with each head coaching change. Second, the emergence of big-man Junemar Fajardo has reduced touches for all of SMB’s perimeter players. It’s only logical that with fewer opportunities to score or make plays, a player’s statline will suffer accordingly. Third, Lutz has also experienced some nagging injuries here and there, limiting his ability to produce at an elite level.

This has led to the “underwhelming” stats that he’s posted the past two years.

PPGRPGAPGSPGFGA/GFG%3FG%FT%MPG
2011-1215.43.443.531.111.742.2%30.2%80.1%35.5
2012-138.43.13.50.587.239.5%32.6%78.3%26.1
2013-148.63.03.10.497.135.9%25.0%75.0%26.8

 

Looking at the table above, you’ll see that he’s pretty much averaged three rebounds and three assists the past three seasons (ironically, he wears the number 3 as well). His points per game suffered though, mainly due to a decline in his shooting numbers, as his overall FG% and FT% have dropped year-on-year the past two seasons.

You can argue that the dip in production may have also been due to a reduction in playing time. If you’ll take a look at the last column of the table above, you’ll see that Lutz played 9 less minutes on average the past two seasons than he did during his rookie year.

In the following table, I pro-rated his stats to show us Lutz’ per-30 minute production over the past 3 years. Even when you factor in minutes played, you’ll see that at least in terms of points per game, Lutz’ totals dropped.

PPGRPGAPGSPGFGA/GFG%3FG%FT%
201213.02.93.0.939.942.2%30.2%80.1%
20139.73.64.0.668.339.5%32.6%78.3%
20149.63.43.5.557.935.9%25.0%75.0%

 

With Junemar emerging as an even bigger force in the PBA, does that mean Lutz won’t be able to “fulfill” his potential as a “star”? Not necessarily.

The good news is that under Coach Austria, Lutz is averaging nearly 32 mpg now. Now, this might go down by season’s end depending on what type of import SMB brings in, but it’s an encouraging sign nonetheless.

Moreover, Lutz seems to be way more comfortable on the court now and is being more productive with his minutes, giving Austria more reason to leave the pitbull guard on the floor. He’s currently averaging 10.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 2.6 apg, numbers close to his rookie year statline.

Looking at the underlying numbers, he’s taking just over nine shots per game while hitting 41.7% from the field, hinting that his usage is creeping back up to that of his first season. That latter figure could stand to improve too, as Chris is so far just 0/10 from 3-point area. As a career 29.2% 3-point shooter, he’s bound to hit a few sooner or later.

Chris Lutz attacking the rim Photo c/o Nuki Sabio

Chris Lutz attacking the rim c/o Nuki Sabio

Lutz has also been very productive on his drives to the basket, finishing at a rate of 50.0%. He’s struggled so far using pick & rolls (just 0/4 with 1 turnover so far), but that’s bound to turn around as he becomes more familiar with Austria’s intricate half court sets.

For most fans, Lutz may never put up the numbers that MVPs like teammates Arwind Santos and Fajardo have put up the past two years. But that doesn’t mean he can’t put up quality, All-star numbers. Don’t be surprised if you hear his name mentioned with the Chans and Yaps as one of the premier swingmen in the PBA by season’s end.

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Kent Salado re-injures MCL, out for Go for Gold campaign

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Photo by PBA Images

Kent Salado suffers a setback

The worst fear of the Go for Gold Scratchers came true Monday evening as all-around combo guard Kent Salado re-injured the medial cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The injury was confirmed by Kent Salado and the officials of Go for Gold and he will miss the entire 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

With under three minutes left in the third quarter of Go for Gold’s opening game against the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers Monday afternoon, the 5-foot-9 guard went for a drive but could not get the proper lift. He tried to walk it off but limped towards the audience section of the Pasig Sports Center.

“Parang may narinig nga siya na may tumunog daw,” shared Scratchers head coach Charles Tiu after their 75-68 win.

“We’re very worried.

“I think our PT said baka MCL ‘yun, so that might be a month or two, so that’s a big problem for us,” the youthful mentor added.

Salado finished the game with nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. He was immediately rushed to the Makati Medical Center afterwards. At around nine in the evening, the MRI showed that he tore his ACL as was initially reported by Tiebreaker Times. A second opinion, however, contradicted the initial diagnosis, showing only an MCL tear.

Prior to this, the native of Cagayan de Oro suffered a partial tear on medial collateral damage on the same knee last October 10, 2017 during Arellano’s 85-79 win over the San Sebastian Golden Stags.

With this setback, Salado was also advised to not play in the summer leagues to fully recover in time for the NCAA Season 94 Seniors Basketball tournament.

“Okay lang para NCAA na ko makapaglaro,” he said.

“Mas importante naman yun.”

The 23-year-old averaged 19.1 points, 5.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals last season. He is eligible to enter the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.

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San Beda overwhelmed by Sale, out of title contention

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Against a taller Moroccan club team, the San Beda College Red Lions could not get the ball rolling against Al Sale, falling 77-104, early Tuesday morning (Manila time) at the Al Ahli Club in Dubai.

With the loss and the UAE National Team defeating Sagesse earlier in the day, the 0-3 Red Lions can no longer advance to the next stage of the 29th Dubai International Basketball Tournament.

San Beda ace Robert Bolick continued his string of sensational outings. After putting up 28 and 27 points respectively in their first two games, the 23 for 2023 Gilas cadet had 20 markers in this game to lead San Beda.

Bolick’s fellow 23 for 2023 teammate Javee Mocon had 10 points but shot just 4-for-14 from the field while NCAA Season 93 Seniors Basketball Finals Most Valuable Player Donald Tankoua had six points, eight rebounds, three steals, and two blocks.

Sale, a team that has three national team players including 6-foot-11 Soufiane Kourdou and two American reinforcements, imposed their will right from the get-go — leading 28-7 to end the first frame.

Sale led by as much as 37 points midway through the second quarter, 51-14. On the other hand, San Beda could not muster a strong run as their longest rally was just a 6-0 spurt late in the third canto.

Sniper AC Soberano and Jeramer Cabanag played their best games in the tournament so far, finishing with 11 and eight points respectively. Co-captain Joe Presbitero also had eight markers.

American Patrick Rembert led six Sale players in double-figures with 22 points. Abderrahim Najah went 7-for-8 from the field for 17 points while Kordou had 16 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.

San Beda-Pilipinas ends its campaign against Sagesse on Wednesday, January 24 (Manila time).

The Scores:

San Beda 77 – Bolick 20, Soberano 11, Mocon 10, Presbitero 8, Cabanag 8, Tankoua 6, Noah 4, Oftana 4, Carino 3, Adamos 3, Toba 0, Tongco 0.

Sale 104 – Rembert 22, Najah 17, Kourdou 16, Baery 14, Cutis 14, Arnold 13, Almahini 4, Jaddi 4, Elmadini 0, Belhaddar 0.

Quarterscores: 7-28, 22-54, 53-82, 77-104.

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Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan cut from pool

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SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ third session for the second leg of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers ended early on Monday evening.

Prior to the end of the practice, head coach Chot Reyes talked to team veterans Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and June Mar Fajardo. The outspoken mentor told the seniors of the team that he is cutting Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan from the pool.

“The reason why we’re dropping Abueva and Almazan for the second window is because they haven’t showed up,” lamented Reyes.

“It’s already our third practice at hindi pa sila nagpapakita. It’s simply a matter of disinterest.

“I guess they’re not interested so we have to move on we can’t wait for those guys,” he pointed out.

Both Abueva and Almazan were part of the teams that competed in the 2017 SEABA Championship, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, and the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Only 10 players from the pool showed up for the team’s third session. And with the second leg exactly one month away, Gilas cannot let a slip up happen especially against Australia.

“Aside from those two we don’t know where Matt Wright is, while Allein [Maliksi] is attending a wedding in Australia. Other than that it’s really just an issue of Calvin and Raymond if they don’t want to be a part of the pool.” expressed Reyes.

“That’s the reason we’re dropping them for the second window.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

23 for 2023 cadets fill up Gilas practice

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With just 31 days until the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, only 10 players from the pool attended the team’s third session, Monday evening at the Meralco Gym.

Suiting up in the session presided over by Coach Chot Reyes were June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Roger Pogoy. Carl Cruz and Jayson Castro were in attendance but were in street clothes.

Not present were Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, and Allein Maliksi. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend practice.

Joining the seniors team to prep them up for the World Cup Qualifiers were 10 players from the 23 for 2023 pool.

Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Nieto attended his first Gilas practice. Joining him were teammates Isaac Go and Thirdy Ravena.

Completing the night’s cast were CJ Perez, Abu Tratter, Will Gozum, J-jay Alejandro, Arvin Tolentino, and Juan Gomez de Liano. Joshua Sinclair watched from the sidelines as he is still recovering from an ACL injury.

Gilas will take on Australia in Melbourne on February 22. The Philippine will then host Japan three days later at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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