During their match Wednesday night, Barangay Ginebra was ahead only by four points against Barako Bull entering the final period, 81-77, before a key move by head coach Frankie Lim paved the way for a huge run that broke the game wide open.
In the said unit, Lim put Emman Monfort and Sol Mercado as his backcourt players with Kim Jiwan playing the three spot. Joining the three were a pair of hardworking forwards in Rodney Brondial and Dave Marcelo, and the small ball unit ignited a run sparked by pressure defense and transition offense.
“We played with a lot of energy. We were able to switch a lot in defense, create turnovers, and run. We started to run high pick and rolls to try and bring [Liam] McMorrow out of the hoop,” Mercado said on how Ginebra stopped Barako on its tracks using the small combo.
“He [Lim] made the adjustment. Emman [Monfort] played great. We started pretty slow and Emman responded. I am happy for him.”
On offense, Mercado became unstoppable on straight line drives, and scored easy baskets underneath. On certain times, he went with the high pick and roll that lured McMorrow out of the paint as Marcelo and Brondial can both hit the mid-range jumper.
The unit then forced turnovers and ran in transition with Mercado pushing the pace, the perfect recipe for disaster for the opposing side.
“Coach had me running some pick and rolls, because if McMorrow shows I will come around him and try to make the right play out of that. We were just able to run and that is the biggest thing. That is the image coach wants us to project and it worked,” Mercado added.
The particular five on the floor outscored the Energy, 20-10 to push the lead to 14. Ginebra eventually won, 120-98.
Mercado finished with 14 points and 5 assists; Monfort added 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and was a plus-35. Brondial chipped in 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting, and was plus-27.
Monfort later on told media that the win was “about giving the effort” as the Kings had their backs against the walls.
“Kapag binigay mo ‘yung 100 percent mo, good things will come,” Monfort said.
“Sol is very fast and Kim is a shooter. We used that to our advantage.”
With Ginebra still looking to make it in the playoffs, Monfort vows the team will fight until the end, refusing to believe they are already out until the final buzzer says so.
“We are a never say die team. That’s it. Until the last buzzer, until sasabihin out na kami, we don’t want to believe we are out. We keep on fighting,” he said.