(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
The Gin Kings limit the Kraken to 9 points but what about the rest of the Beermen?
Mock him all you want but Arwind Santos owned the right to wear the face that he was wearing in the photo above. Why?
Arwind Santos led the way for the defending champions, San Miguel Beermen with 23 points and 8 rebounds as the Beermen beat the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, 102-90 to open their best-of-7 semifinal series. While many had already predicted that the Beermen will win the series, many were also disappointed with Ginebra's effort as the Beermen actually won the series opener despite the fact that June Mar Fajardo, a guy who has been averaging 22 points per game this conference, was limited to 9 points on 4 for 5 field goal shooting.
With Game 2 already set for tomorrow, we'll list down the basic things that Ginebra should do if they want to avoid heading into Game 3 facing a 0-2 series deficit:
Contain the Snipers of SMB
One of the biggest advantages of the Beermen have over the Gin Kings is the fact that San Miguel has a bunch of snipers who can hit their targets from the three-point line. If you've watched Game 1 last night, you've witnessed the full power of the SMB long-range shooters against the undermanned Ginebra squad. As a team, the Beermen went 16 for 34 from the three-point line while Ginebra could only make 5 of their 19 attempts from outside. In fact, Von Pessummal made 3 of 5 from three and scored 18 points all in all.
Ginebra cannot afford to let SMB make it rain from three tomorrow if the former intends to tie the series at one game apiece. It's either that Ginebra will let June Mar Fajardo dominate the paint and shut down the shooters of San Miguel or, the Gin Kings will try to contain Fajardo especially in the low post and let him make the kick out pass to Alex Cabagnot or Marcio Lassiter for another trey. BANG!
Fortunately, it's a 7-game series.
Don't Focus on Fajardo. Alone
Sure, defending June Mar Fajardo is definitely not a one-man task but that doesn't mean that you will throw all of your defensive strategies on Fajardo alone. Nope. That will never work as San Miguel owns the best all-Filipino line up so if Ginebra intends to make a series out of this, they better start defending the rest of the Beermen. Sure, Ginebra is still without Greg Slaughter but if you look back during the elimination phase, Ginebra won without GregZilla and they did it without focusing on Fajardo alone. In that game, Raymond Aguilar provided the defensive strength in the second half.
In last night's Game 1, Raymond Aguilar played for 6 minutes but contributed nothing but 2 turnovers and 3 personal fouls.
The Rest of Ginebra MUST Wake Up
- LA Tenorio- 6 points on 3 for 7 shooting
- Joe Devance- 4 points on 2 for 6 shooting
- Jervy Cruz- 4 points on 2 for 4 shooting
The players above were missing in last night's series opener. Sure, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson and Sol Mercado each had 17 points but for Ginebra to be able to beat a complete San Miguel team, the Gin Kings must be able to get the most out of the rest of the team especially from veterans Tenorio and Devance.
Again, the Gin Kings are fortunate that this is a 7-game series so they still got a chance to prove to the rest of the PBA that yes, they can beat San Miguel, with or without Greg Slaughter. But they better do it right because once the Beermen start clicking on offense, they will be harder to stop. Fortunately, Ginebra is coached by none other than Tim Cone- arguably one of the greatest basketball minds. One way or another, Tim Cone will figure something out that will help Ginebra solve their SMB puzzle.