It has been one hell of a conference for Mikee Romero’s bunch so far.
With monster import, Jarrid Famous, patrolling the inside, and local leading scorer, Terrence Romeo, and Asian import, Omar Krayem, sniping from outside, the Batang Pier have been a handful to deal with. Not only have they already reached a conference high of six wins, but they also have a chance to grab the no.4 slot at the end of the elimination round and the invaluable twice-to-beat advantage that comes with it.
Many point to Romeo’s scoring exploits as the main reason why GlobalPort is in that position. Yes, Terrence “TRX7” Romeo is gunning for a scoring title and is a major piece of the puzzle, but given the combination of high usage rate and mediocre efficiency, I think opposing coaches can live with his output.
If there’s one player though who’s been giving coaches fits, it’s Stan Pringle.
For some, Pringle’s averages of 14.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists should be expected, since he was the #1 pick in last year’s rookie draft. Moreover, his game was already considered “mature”, as he had played a few years in competitive leagues abroad.
However, one thing to point out is that he’s only been logging in 24.4 minutes per game, down from over 30 in the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup. When you look at his per-36 minute stats for each conference, you’ll see that he’s really upped his game:
One of the biggest factors in Pringle’s surge has been his outside shooting. After hitting just 17% of his 3s last conference, his 3FG% has jumped to an out-of-this-world 53.8% on nearly 5 attempts per game.
Back in October, defenders backed off Pringle, as they feared him getting to the basket. Now, he’s hitting an astonishing 55% on off-the-dribble jumpers. Eventually this number should drop, but taking and making those pull-ups makes him that more dangerous.
Still, Pringle’s game is predicated on his ability to get to the rim. It’s his combination of speed, strength, and ball-handling that allows him to take off in transition and make plays like this:
With Coach Pido back, many of GlobalPort’s sets include top ball screens and isolation drives. Watching their games, you’ll see all three guards – Romeo, Krayem, and Pringle – isolate at the top to try and break down the defense. Moreover, he is 65% on straight line drives to the basket. By now, we all know that Stanley is one of the best:
What sets Stanley apart from Romeo and Krayem though is his ability to set up his teammates. Romeo does average more assists, but that’s more of a function of him having no more choice but to pass after he’s tried a million dribble moves to get off his own shot. Pringle is a natural point guard who really loves to set up his teammates first. His skill set allows him to make simple but effective plays like this:
In the clip above, you’ll see that not only did Pringle break down his own defender, but drew the attention of three other opposing players as well. This led to the easy open 3 for Jensen.
The biggest question for Stan – and GlobalPort for that matter – is whether he can withstand the grind of a playoff push. Unlike the elimination round where teams normally get three or four days rest between games, the PBA schedule demands for games to be played almost every other day.
As it is, Pringle is notably playing hurt, which is a big reason why he’s only been playing 24 minutes a game. He’s also reportedly been sitting out practices, in an effort to preserve his body from constant wear and tear.
With Pringle healthy there’s no doubt that GlobalPort is a dark horse contender. The only question is whether or not the Rookie of the Year candidate will have enough in the tank to tow his team to the Finals.
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