The Globalport Batang Pier made strides back in the 2015 Governors’ Cup, winning 7 out of a possible 11 games for their best elimination round record. With the help of import Marcus Cousin to patrol the paint, the Batang Pier looked like one of the better contenders in the league.
The story has been quite similar this conference, as the Batang Pier showed the league they are now one of the toughest teams to play against in the PBA. Globalport are the fourth-best offensive team, scoring 102 points per 100 possessions, and operate at a third-highest pace (97.5).
The crew open their playoff campaign against the Barako Bull Energy. While not as impressive as the Batang Pier, the Energy picked up a few good wins in the elimination round as they went to a new strength: three-point shooting.
The Energy attempt 34.9 triples/game, five more than the next team (Globalport), while draining 11.5/game. Six players have at least one three-point conversion per match.
However, the Energy are the worst defensive team in the league, allowing opponents 104.4 points per 100 possessions. While the series could turn into a shootout, Barako should get showcase better defense to improve their chances of extending the match-up to a decider.
While Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle — two of the best guards in the league today — are the main reasons for Globalport’s surge, the team also received plenty of help from a revitalized supporting crew.
The additions of Rico Maierhofer, Dorian Pena, and Jay Washington during the offseason made Globalport a better team in the interior. The Batang Pier are the top rebounding team with 51.6 boards/game. Maierhofer is averaging 6.8 rebounds/game with rebounding splits of 13/21.2/17.1, his best in over three years.
When it comes to the wings, Keith Jensen has also provided additional spark for Globalport. Jensen has attempted one more three-point field goal than last Philippine Cup, and has shot at 36.4 percent.
With a better supporting crew, Globalport have become a better contender this conference.
Most of Barako’s threes are assisted as a result of the team’s aggressiveness. They let their playmakers facilitate well and attack the basket, while surrounding the shot-creators with able shooters. Willie Wilson, the team’s top scorer (17.7 PPG), rebounder (12 RPG), and assists maker (2.8 APG), has given the team a new edge by working outside, finding his teammates, and driving to the basket. He leads the team in free throw attempts/game with 5.9, and it has helped the team in huge ways.
Barako Bull have lost two of three games minus Garcia, the Energy’s finest playmaker. Aside from a team second-best 17.1 PPG, Garcia averages 1.6 APG. His aggressiveness and ability to blitz past defenders and get to the rim spells the difference between a well-assisted basket and a bad offensive possession, as defenses collapse due to his speed. Without him, Barako must stay aggressive and have the other guards step up.
Teams have figured stopping Stanley Pringle, Globalport’s top shot-creator, can change a lot. His initial penetrations result in good shots for the Batang Pier, and preventing him from getting any running start makes it tough for Globalport’s sets. For Globalport to become even more dangerous, both Pringle and Romeo should show up and try to make it a pick-your-poison affair for the other side.
Washington is one of the multi-tooled bigs of the Batang Pier. He can score inside and outside, defend the paint, and rebound. He should be able to provide more impact for his team in this series.
Having averaged less than 10 points/game prior to Garcia’s injury, Urbiztondo exploded for 54 points in his next three games and made a total of 14 triples. The veteran guard must show the same tenacity to help Barako with its offense.
Globalport in 1. The game could pretty much turn into a shootout as both teams love taking a ton of threes, but the Batang Pier are the better defensive crew. Globalport should be able to stop Barako Bull’s execution and play a finer game all-throughout.
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