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By the Numbers: Aggressiveness and Free Throws: Does Nash Racela Have a Point?

Who was the more aggressive team, really?

TNT Coach Nash Racela was left puzzled with the huge disparity in the free throws. 

The Talk N Text KaTropa were sent packing for an early vacation after they dropped their semifinal series against the crowd favorite, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings after Ginebra pounded on the ejection of TNT's import, Glen Rice Jr., en route to a 115-105 Game 4 victory for Tim Cone and the rest of the defending champions which sealed another Finals rematch with the Meralco Bolts. 

But, if you were watching the entire series as this basketball pundit did, then you witnessed how heated and tensed the entire series was especially in the last two games which were both won by the Gin Kings.

If the players were tensed, if the fans were tensed, so were both head tacticians, particularly Nash Racela. In fact, during the halftime break of Game 3, he had to be pulled away from Ginebra Governor Alfrancis Chua after both gentlemen nearly came to land blows as both engaged in a verbal fistfight. Fortunately, no fines were handed down and no one was hurt. 

But even after that, Alfrancis Chua, the ever passionate Alfrancis Chua took things to Twitter, fired a series of tweets which were obviously for the TNT coach even without mentioning the former's name. Nash Racela for his part, begged off to be dragged from this attack from Chua, saying it was up to PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa to comment about the tweets of the Ginebra governor.

So what was the point of all these? The answer to that is simple. Nash Racela, the ever-sarcastic Nash Racela first questioned Tim Cone in saying that the main reason why Ginebra was awarded 43 free throws in Game 3 was that Ginebra was the "more aggressive" team in terms of attacking the basket.

Okay. So let's check the number for the entire series to see who was telling the truth:

Game 1: 121-94 win by Ginebra

Game 1 saw a dominant Ginebra team which frustrated the KaTropa by shutting down Glen Rice Jr., who missed 12 of his 20 attempts which rippled to the struggles of the rest of the team. Now, aside from shutting down the import of their opponents, the one thing Ginebra did in the series opener was shooting better in the 2-point area. In fact, the Gin Kings attempted 68 shots in the 2-point area while making 40. Free throw shooting also favored the Gin Kings as they went to the line, 32 times while making 23 charities. 

In this case, Tim Cone was right because TNT, as a team, only attempted 59 shots from the 2-point area and they only made 26 of those 59 attempts, a 44% field goal shooting. TNT was only awarded 25 free throws which the KaTropa converted 18 from the 25 giveaways. 

Game 2: 103-96 win by Talk N Text

Now, Game 2 was a little more different than Game 1. The 2-point field goal shooting of TNT was at 30 out of 53 which was good for 56%. On the other side of the fence, Ginebra fired 59 attempts from the inside of the three-point area and made 32 of those attempts which resulted in a 56% field goal shooting.

If you will ask this basketball pundit, Ginebra was the "more aggressive" team in this particular game because of the fact that they shot more and made from the two-point area, especially in the shaded area. In terms of free throw shooting, 35 free throws were awarded to TNT and only 19 for Ginebra and that was something that Tim Cone didn't whine about until Nash Racela went sarcastic after Game 3.

Game 3: 106-103 win by Ginebra

If you've watched Game 3, then you know that this game was when things began to break apart especially for the KaTropa. Why? Here's why:

Even though both teams made 29 field goals from the 2-point area and both Ginebra and TNT shot 45% and 47% respectively from that area, it was the huge disparity in the number of free throws that heated things up. Just how wide the disparity was? 43-14 in favor of the Gin Kings. Ginebra was awarded 43 free throws and made 30 of them. In fact, 27 of those attempts were awarded in the first half which had Nash Racela scratching his head. In contrast, Racela's boys made 12 of 14 free throws for the entire Game 3. No wonder why he was being sarcastic after that. 

Game 4: 115-105 win by Ginebra

As mentioned above, the Gin Kings were able to book their return trip to the PBA Governors' Cup Finals after beating an all-Filipino TNT crew. To accomplish this, however, the Gin Kings needed 46 points from Justin Brownlee. 

But what was more interesting in this specific game was the disparity again, in the number of 2-point baskets, both attempted and made. TNT fired 63 shots from that are and the made 30. In contrast, Ginebra made 28 of their 47 2-point field goals. You cannot really blame Nash Racela for questioning aggressiveness of Ginebra if we are to look at the field goal shooting of both squads. 


Maybe Tim Cone was right for Game 2. Maybe Nash Racela had the right to be sarcastic about the outcome of Game 3 and, the series in general. But the basic rule in basketball: if you constantly attack the shaded area, you can score easy baskets and fish fouls from defenders. 

Maybe both squads were indeed aggressive from their own perspective. 

Or maybe, one team wasn't lucky enough.  

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