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Zoning up the champs: NLEX pressing defense, match up zones keys to beating SMB

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Head coach Boyet Fernandez is one of those mentors who brought college flavor to the PBA.

Alaska Aces coach Alex Compton adopted the system of Australian coach Rob Beveridge of the renowned AIS, and the Aces were able to throw the deliberate half court set called triangle offense out of the window.

In addition to that, Louie Alas, champion coach of Letran, Topex Robinson, former head coach of San Sebastian and incoming coach of the Lyceum Pirates in the NCAA brought in his experience.

Not to mention there’s Koy Banal of Barako Bull and Eric Gonzales of GlobalPort, who are trying to do something in between for their respective squads, giving their input from their college stints and elevating it to the professional ranks.

On Tuesday, Fernandez showed the importance of using various defenses such as pressing and zone, two important defensive schemes used in pulling off a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen.

“The adjustment na nag-sona kami and then we pressed and played zone, I’m just happy that the San Miguel boys didn’t make their shots. They made some treys like (Alex) Cabagnot and (Chris) Lutz, but at least we limited their attacks at the post. We got those defensive rebounds that really derailed the offense of San Miguel. Remember, San Miguel is one of the top rebounding teams in the league. We’re just happy we got this,” Fernandez told media after the game.

In pressing, the Road Warriors managed to use various press defenses. They used a man and zone press combined. They used match up zone and 2-3 zone defense extended to disrupt the offense of the Beermen, who were outscored by their rivals, 42-18, in the fourth period.

“We just made stops and that’s why we won the game. The challenge for us is not to give up penetration and let them shoot from the perimeter. I think they were tempted to take the three-point shots because we were playing zone. It’s a good thing they were not able to hit their shots,” added Fernandez.

The Beermen took 34 attempts from three-point range and only eight pulled through as the team decided to take it from beyond the arc, instead of putting the ball down to their big man, June Mar Fajardo or let Arizona Reid penetrate to the basket.

Reid and Santos took the bulk of those three-pointers. The import took ten shots from three-point range and made three while the former MVP attempted seven times and made two.

Were the Beermen contented with taking shots from beyond the arc?

“Hindi naman kasi ang nakita ko lang hindi kami masyado nakatawag ng play kaya may mga times kapag pinasa samin natitira namin, nagmamadali na kami,” said Santos. “Dapat kasi nakakapagset kami ng maayos para hindi kami nagmamadali. Parang nadala kami nung press nila eh.”

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