Rotation a key to survival

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
Rotation a key to survival
Top seed San Miguel is coming off three straight wins after losing two in a row.
STAR / File

The PBA visits Dasmariñas, Cavite, for a Philippine Cup semifinal twinbill today as San Miguel Beer looks to put Rain or Shine on the brink of elimination with a third straight win and Barangay Ginebra tries to come back from defeat in breaking a 1-1 tie with Meralco. Both games are crucial. Another win by San Miguel will push the Elasto Painters one foot in the grave with a 0-3 deficit nearly impossible to recover from. Ginebra and Meralco are locked at a win apiece in their series which is now a virtual best-of-five.

Top seed San Miguel is coming off three straight wins after losing two in a row. The Beermen are holding Rain or Shine to an average of 93.5 points and .396 field goal percentage. More than offense, its San Miguels commitment to defense thats giving coach Yeng Guiao fits. In Game Two, Rain or Shine committed 15 miscues and San Miguel capitalized to score more turnover points, 18-4. The Painters live and die with the three-point shot, putting pressure on their shooters to knock down the cannon balls. In Game One, Rain or Shine took 43 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc and in Game Two, it was 49 percent. Connection rate, however, was an average of .276. In contrast, the Beermen focused on higher percentage shots, hitting .479 from the field and taking only 30.9 percent from three.

Rotation is a key factor in both series. There are seven Beermen logging at least 20 minutes with June Mar Fajardo the only player averaging at least 30. Rain or Shine has six players logging at least 20 minutes. Five Beermen are averaging in double figures compared to three for Rain or Shine. Coach Jorge Gallents deep rotation is a luxury with Terrence Romeo, Don Trollano, Jericho Cruz and Mo Tautuaa coming off the bench. The four reserves would be starters for any other PBA team.

Its the same situation in the other series. Ginebras Christian Standhardinger and Mav Ahanmisi are clocking heavy minutes with coach Tim Cones short rotation. In Game Two, C-Stan and Ahanmisi played over 40 minutes each. C-Stan fired 41 points but only two other Ginebra players finished in twin digits while Meralco had four in double figures in a balanced distribution of wealth. Meralco coach Luigi Trillo is aware of Ginebras lack of depth with Jamie Malonzo, Aljon Mariano and Jeremiah Gray out of commission so the Bolts are running Cones charges to the ground, averaging 17.5 fastbreak points to Ginebras eight. In Game Two, Meralco had more bench points, 27-17. Ginebra is the leagues No. 1 defensive team and in nine wins this conference, opponents were limited to an average of 87.8. In Game Two, Meralco erupted for 103.

In a war of attrition, a deep bench is a major plus. The longer the best-of-seven series against Ginebra goes, the better are Meralcos chances to advance. San Miguel has the same advantage over Rain or Shine.

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