The Gallent Men

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
The Gallent Men
San Miguel head coach Jorge Gallent.
PBA Images

There were major adjustments that San Miguel Beer coach Jorge Gallent initiated in Game Four of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Wednesday. He started Mo Tautuaa for the first time in the best-of-seven series, replacing Rodney Brondial. He brought in Terrence Romeo and Vic Manuel off the bench for the first time in the duel. He managed June Mar Fajardo’s minutes and kept the Kraken fresh for the homestretch, resulting in an exposure of a series-low 37:04 minutes. He influenced the Beermen to play efficiently, registering an assist-to-turnover ratio of 20:5, a marked improvement from Games One and Three which Meralco won. In Game One, San Miguel’s ratio was 18:19 and in Game Three, 15:15. He extended San Miguel’s rotation with CJ Perez the only player who logged over 40 minutes compared to two for Meralco.

With Gallent’s moves, it was no surprise that San Miguel won Game Four, 111-101 and the Bolts never led in the contest. Tautuaa is more of an offensive threat than Brondial and Gallent figured his presence in the starting lineup would throw off Meralco’s defensive schemes on Fajardo. That made it easier for JMF to get off his shots. In Game Three, Fajardo went two-of-five from the field and in Game Four, nine-of-14. Tautuaa is averaging 10.8 points in the Finals and Brondial, 1.5.

Romeo strained his calf in the semifinals where he averaged 15 points against Rain or Shine and sat out the first three games of the Finals. He wasn’t scheduled to play in Game Four as doctors prescribed a few more days of rest but when Meralco opened a 2-1 series lead, there was no postponing the inevitable. Romeo hit seven points in 18:20 minutes. Manuel had played only twice in the playoffs and was a DNP in seven outings. In Game Four, he got the call and delivered eight points in 7:05 minutes to record a plus 15. In all, San Miguel’s reserves tallied 28 points compared to Meralco’s 15.

Fajardo broke loose with a series-high 28 points even as he logged his least minutes in the Finals. He played 39:21 minutes in Game One, 44:20 in Game Two and 40:45 in Game Three. The extra rest on the bench paid off. Fajardo never played a quarter without relief. In the third period, he logged only 6:11 minutes but it was because of his four personals.

Chris Ross’ impact was evident in posting a plus 26. He was the stabilizer on the floor and his six assists were a boost. In San Miguel’s two Finals wins, the Beermen averaged 21.5 assists and in its two losses, 16.5. It was the same reversal in turnovers. In two wins, San Miguel averaged 7.5 turnovers and in two losses, 17.

The Gallent Men escaped falling into a 1-3 hole and now, the series is tied at two wins apiece. Tonight’s Game Five is pivotal as the winner will move a victory away from clinching with a twice-to-beat advantage. Game Four saw San Miguel scoring over 100 points for the first time in the series. The stats show that when it’s defense-oriented and low-scoring, Meralco wins but when it’s offense-oriented and high-scoring, San Miguel wins. It remains to be seen how the wind blows in Game Five.

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