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Stats Don’t Lie: SMB vs ROS Series Preview

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It’s your classic series of foils.

A team of “blue-collar” workers vs. a larong-mayaman squad.

One team built on the strengths of it’s MVP front-line; the other whose leading scorers are it’s Gilas backcourt.

One coach, the silent, unassuming, fatherly type; his counterpart, a fiery leader who’s been known to chew out his players day in and day out.

Throw in the fact that SMB’s import, Arizona Reid, used to play for the Rain or Shine franchise and we’re looking at potentially great series.

Here’s my take on the series and what I think will be the deciding factors that will determine who will come out on top.

Dealing with the Beermen front-line

 

It’s no surprise to see San Miguel atop of the league rankings in terms of defense. They rank in the top four in the league in the following categories – Defensive Rating, Defensive eFG%, defensive TOV%, and defensive FTR. Much like they did during their title run last All Filipino Cup, the Beermen are locking in defensively. They’re keeping their rotations tight and managing to stay in front of penetrating guards to avoid giving up easy layups.

Rain or Shine is also doing quite a number on the defensive end, as they too rank in the top 4 in Defensive Rating, defensive effective field goal % and opponent TOV%. What’s most surprising though is that they are holding their own on the defensive glass, allowing opponents to rebound just 28.6% of their own rebounds – good for 3rd in the league.

In the past, this has been Rain or Shine’s waterloo, as they’ve been continuously outrebounded on both sides of the glass. Without the lack of a true big man (sorry, while I love the grind it out style of Extra Rice tandem, they just aren’t great rebounders), they’re normally at a disadvantage in terms of rebounding night in and night out.

Enter Wendell McKines.

McKines puts the POWER in power forward. He’s returned after a one conference stint with Alaska looking trimmer but still just as powerful. According to humblebola.com, he’s rebounding 23.8% of all available defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor, easily one of the highest marks in the league. He’s given the Elasto Painters a true inside presence.

The question is will he be up to the task of defending soon-to-be two-time MVP Junemar Fajardo?

Fajardo’s per-36 numbers (16.8pts / 13.8rbs / 1.5blocks) are basically in line with his All-Filipino BPC numbers. When you consider that he’s playing with a ball dominant import, these numbers are actually quite impressive.

Limiting Junemar’s touches – either through a direct post entry pass or an offensive rebound – will go a long way in Rain or Shine’s quest to shut down SMB.

The other key person to stop for ROS is obviously AZ Reid. As we’ve seen in the past, AZ is an absolute beast of an import, one of the best scorers this league has seen. Yes, he dominates the ball, but when he makes plays like this:

Or is shooting the ball well from the outside:

Or getting some work in the post:

You just gotta give him the ball!

He’s currently averaging 28.1pts, 10.6rebs, and 4.6assists. While his rebounding and scoring is down from his time with ROS, he’s also averaging 4.6 assists, up from his averages with the Painters. True enough, his usage rate (which measures the amount of offensive possessions a player uses when he’s on the floor) is down from 38.7% two years ago to just 33.5% this year.

However, it seems that the team struggles when Reid fails to get it going. In their four losses, AZ has shot just 33.7% from the field, including an icy cold 16% from downtown. These numbers pail in comparison to when they win, where he shoots 46% and 34%, respectively.

Let’s also not forget that Reid used to play for Rain or Shine – defenders Norwood and Ibanes know his game very well. They’ve played with him for multiple conferences and they’ve come this close to winning a championship together. You can be sure that Guiao will use the thought AZ beating his former teammates on his way to winning a championship before they do as motivation to do their best.

Interestingly, in wins, the Beermen shoots 47% while in their losses, just 36%. One thing working in ROS’ favor is that they play tons of guys. Unlike Coach Leo, Guiao’s wards are normally fresh throughout the game as he likes to spread the wealth. As long as they stay mentally sharp, Norwood and Ibanes should be physically up to the task of making life difficult for AZ.

Rain or Shine’s 1-2 punch: Lee and McKines

 

So far, I’ve pointed out the problems that Rain or Shine will have to deal with on the defensive end. Let’s not forget though that the Painters has a guy on their team that has been causing headaches for opposing coaching staffs the past few years in Paul Lee

First of all, let me say that I don’t buy the crap that ROS has no superstars. Guys like Lee would (and should) be classified as the PBA’s biggest superstar if he were putting up his numbers in a jersey from the MVP or SMC camps. As I’ve pointed out in the past, Paul Lee’s per-36 numbers would make him a BPC candidate, right up there with the likes of Fajardo and Abueva.

Admitedly, Lee’s game hasn’t been quite on point this conference, as he’s averaging “just”18.4pts, 5.9rebs, and 4.2 assists on just 37% shooting from the field. The drop in rebounds is concerning, but this could partly be due to him now having a beast of a rebounder in McKines down low gobbling up everyone’s rebounds.

The Lee vs. Ross matchup should be a classic. Ross is probably the best on-ball guard defender in the league, but even he would have problems stopping this:

And this:

The good news for SMB fans though is that Coach Leo makes excellent adjustments and I’m sure as the series progresses, he’ll give Lee new looks every game. Tubid on Lee? How about a dose of Lassiter and Lutz? Or Reid and Cabagnot blitzing Lee on every single pick & roll? These are all in play and it’ll be awesome to see which trick Austria pulls out of his bag.

The other obstacle the Beermen have to overcome is Wendell McKines. As stated above, McKines is a beast of a rebounder and he’s added a new dimension to Guiao’s attack. Moreover, while SMB has a solid defense, their front line of Santos and Reid aren’t exactly known as defensive stoppers. Surely, we’ll see Espinas and Reyes take their shots (pun intended) at McKines and use up their 12 combined fouls to frustrate him.

Austria’s other option could be to put Junemar on him, but that leaves them exposed to multiple Lee-McKines top ball screens. Every single team has tried to expose Fajardo in this way and we can expect Guiao to do the same.

At the end of the day, this series is just too close to call and will likely come down to a few bounces of the ball here and there. Gun to my head, I may have to throw all the stats and scouting out the window and just go with the team that might be a little hungrier. SMB’s already got their ring for this year. Rain or Shine – after SEVEN straight semifinals appearances without a championship to show for it – might just have a bigger chip on their shoulder to take care of.

Prediction:

Elasto Painters in 5.

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Football

Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Basketball

Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’

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Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup

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Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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NCAA

Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win

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Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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