Because they were lucky that Meralco was shooting bricks in Game 2
Greg Slaughter's limited production is one of the reasons why Ginebra didn't dominate Game 2. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Whether Ginebra fans around the world will admit it or not, the defending champions' Game 2 86-76 victory over the Meralco Bolts which gave them a 2-0 series lead, showed some flaws which could hurt Ginebra's chances of winning back-to-back titles if they continue to play the same way come Game 3 on Wednesday.
Given the mere fact that Ginebra'sa biggest lead was at 10 points, many were saying, including this basketball pundit on wheels that the Gin Kings have either gone softer in Gane 2 or, the Bolts were simply defending better than they did in Game 1. Regardless of which was what, the Gin Kings can't afford to show the same flaws in Game 3 and beyond because yes, a 2-0 lead means they are halfway done but it can be erased in a snap.
What are those flaws that this basketball pundit is saying? Let's run the numbers then:
1 Assist for LA Tenorio
Okay. Let's begin this one by saying that it was actually the late-game heroics of Lewis Alfred Tenorio lifted the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in last night's win particularly in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter when the crowd darlings were holding a slim margin. It was Tinyente's three-pointer which gave Ginebra, a 6-point cushion approaching the final minute of the contest. That bomb proved to be the game-winner as Meralco faltered the rest of the way, fading away exactly like they did in the opener.
In the end, Tenorio had 14 points while 3 of his 9 attempts from deep. That was relatively a good shooting percentage especially if you got the big W. The flaw: Tenorio only had 1 ASSIST in almost 35 minutes of action. In Game 1, Tenorio had fewer points but got 5 assists. This basketball pundit isn't saying that Tenorio shouldn't shoot the ball because Tenorio is first and foremost, a good shooter to begin with. But Ginebra also needs his playmaking abilities which made him one of the best floor generals in the first play.
Now that 1 assist that Tenorio had last night can be looked at two scenarios: Either he wasn't passing enough or, he was passing but his teammates weren't taking advantage of those passes. Either way, the Gin Kings will need more from Tinyente if they want to finish this series and celebrate, as soon as Friday.
3 Points for Greg Slaughter
As this basketball pundit on wheels has been mentioning in most of his articles, Greg Slaughter's performance will play an important role in this championship run. He may have won the Best Player of the Conference award before tip-off, beating fellow Cebuano, June Mar Fajardo, but if anything, his 3 points and the Best Player of the Conference award didn't add up. Gregzilla only made 1 of his 6 field goals, went 1 of 3 from the free throw line and, turned the ball over 4 times in 33 minutes of play. Now you tell this basketball pundit, is this how you perform after winning the Best Player of the Conference award?
Fortunately for the Gin Kings, Japeth Aguilar was playing more efficiently than the other half of Ginebra's Twin Towers. In just 28 minutes of action, Aguilar accumulated 16 points to go along with 8 rebounds, a steal and a block. However, if you want to win a championship against a smaller Meralco team, one thing you can do is to take advantage of your height, right? In Game 2, the Gregzilla wasn't dominating in any other way which explains why Ginebra wasn't able to dominate in the entire game.
10 Missed Free Throws for Ginebra
Let's remember the one fact that Nash Racela hates the most: Ginebra is good at drawing fouls. Now, if you can consistently draw fouls from defenders, free throws will be awarded to you especially if the other team has already reached the limit for the number of fouls in a quarter.
Last night's Game 2 saw the Gin Kings attempt 21 charities. The flaw was: the Gin Kings missed 10 of those freebies. While that stat won't matter to fans as long as their team gets the big W, it will matter to Tim Cone.
It will also matter to Norman Black because he can employ a "Hack-a-Scottie" strategy because Scottie Thompson shot 2 of 9 from the line last night- making the 2 charities in the closing minutes to widen the cushion of the Gin Kings. Despite the win, there's no way you can miss 7 straight free throws and make 2 at the endgame because given how close the final score was, Ginebra was already lucky that Meralco was clanking all night long from the three-point line.
If Ginebra is good at drawing multiple fouls from multiple defenders, then they should be able to make more free throws, right?
If Ginebra wants to celebrate by Friday night, a good outing in Game 3 is a must. Fortunately, they have the winningest coach in the history of the PBA in Tim Cone at the helm.
One way or another, he will find ways to make Ginebra get back its dominating ways come Wednesday and when that happens, the Meralco Bolts will be in a terrible situation and mind you, folks, not everyone can win a championship by erasing a 0-3 series deficit.
(video courtesy of YouTube/Sports5)