Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and their legion of fans suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Meralco Bolts during Game 1 of the 2016 Governor’s Cup Finals.
In that game, the Kings were up by 16 points in the second half but they faltered during the overtime period.
The loss stings but luckily for Ginebra, they can immediately make up for that during today’s Game 2. What adjustments should Ginebra prioritize in Game 2?
Slow Down Allen Durham
The import of the Meralco Bolts, Allen Durham, probably wrapped up the Best Import award after he exploded for 46 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block and 2 steals in their Game 1 win. Durham was phenomenal in overtime where he scored 7 straight points to electrify the Bolts. Moreover, his 46 points was his 2nd most points in the conference (55 is his career-high) and he did that with hot shooting (5 of 6 from threes) and 64% overall shooting.
Therefore, Ginebra needs to find a way to slow down Durham if they want to even the series. Multiple defenders like Japeth Aguilar, Dave Marcelo, Aljon Mariano, Joe DeVance, Justin Brownlee and Chris Ellis (if he plays), should have their turns in tiring and bothering Durham. Furthermore, Ginebra should probably send double teams from time to time just to vary their defensive stance and maybe confuse and surprise the all-around import of Meralco. One more thing, Ginebra should also try to attack Durham more on defense, perhaps, get more fouls called on him plus get him fatigued.
Justin Brownlee got thoroughly outplayed by Allen Durham which was not the case when Ginebra defeated the Bolts during their lone meeting in the eliminations round. Brownlee only had 17 points and he took 18 shot attempts. He only had 8 boards and 4 assists as well which really highlighted his poor performance. Additionally, Brownlee also took ill-advised shots down the stretch when he launched a couple of three-pointers that missed. A better option would have been to share the ball for a better shot or for him to attack the basket. In any case, it is imperative that Brownlee contribute more offensively and defensively if Ginebra wants to tie the series.
Now, Brownlee isn’t the only one to blame for Ginebra’s loss because their other frontcourt starter, Japeth Aguilar, also struggled offensively. Aguilar only had 6 points but he did manage to get 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. Still, it hurt the Kings that Aguilar fouled out in regulation and he was limited to 25 minutes. His foul troubles allowed Durham to score with less resistance because Aguilar had to be less aggressive with his defense. Hence, Ginebra needs Aguilar to score more points and stay on the floor longer.
The Kings didn’t play their brand of basketball in Game 1. Their team defense was nowhere to be found for most of the game. It was inconsistent and erratic. They allowed Meralco to score 31 points in the 1st and 33 more in the 3rd quarter. Furthermore, they barely outrebounded the Bolts (50-49 Kings) and they could not force more turnovers. Actually, Meralco had one less turnover than Ginebra. The Kings also gave up more threes made and more FT attempts.
Thus, the Gin Kings should focus on their rotations and defensive assignments. They need to have more communication and the energy level has to pick up especially when they are leading. They cannot relax even with a big lead because Meralco showed everyone that their team does not give up easily.
On the other hand, what does Meralco need to improve or continue doing in order to gain a 2-0 advantage?
Allen Durham is a topnotch import who can do everything on offense and defense. He showed this when he led the Bolts in their overtime win. However, Meralco cannot expect to win the finals if Durham is expected (or required) to explode for at least 3 more times, that’s assuming they win 3 more. The rest of the team needs to provide him with more support. Chris Newsome, Reynell
Hugnatan and Jimmy Alapag supplied some support and they need to continue that moving forward.
Aside from those three locals, the others like Cliff Hodge (4 points on 1 of 9 shooting), Baser Amer (5 points) and Jonathan Uyloan (zero points as a starter) must step up and contribute a lot more. Should Jared Dillinger, he will also be counted on to offer any kind of help.
Rookie of the Year
Chris Newsome solidified his position as the most probable winner of the Rookie of the Year award. Newsome delivered with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists while playing 47 grueling minutes in his first finals appearance. In contrast, Ginebra’s best rookie, Scottie Thompson, finished with 8 points, 7 boards and 5 assists. No doubt solid numbers but they pale in comparison to what Newsome accomplished.
Aside from submitting a near triple-double, Newsome also played adequate perimeter defense. His defense wasn’t exceptional because LA Tenorio burned the Bolts with 36 points and Tenorio’s hot stroke was extremely difficult to stop. Now, Newsome cannot be solely responsible for Tenorio’s amazing outing because the whole team had problems slowing down Tenorio. To his credit, Newsome was able to help slow down Scottie Thompson and Sol Mercado who combined for only 16 points. Hence, the Bolts need Newsome to produce another gem on both sides of the court.
Mighty Mouse from deep
The Bolts’ veteran point guard and team leader Jimmy Alapag tied Allan “the Trigggerman” Caidic for most threes made in PBA history. Alapag will certainly break Caidic’s record during the finals and it will most likely happen in Game 2 because “Mighty Mouse” will always have the license to shoot, regardless of the score and time left in the game. It can be a fast break opportunity or late game situation, if Alapag is on the floor, he will always be a threat to shoot.
Thus, the Bolts need to give Alapag more chances to shoot and more room to operate. Alapag contributed 13 points and hit 2 threes during Game 1. One of his threes came late in the 4th quarter and it gave the Bolts a slim lead. His presence opens up the game for the rest of the team and if Ginebra scrambles on defense to cover Alapag, one of the Bolts might find himself open for an under the goal stab or open jumper. If Alapag continues to hit threes, then Ginebra might find themselves down 2 games in the finals. – By Rolly Mendoza
Rolly Mendoza writes opinion pieces for FOX Sports related to basketball