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FRED WARRICK'S BLOG    View profile
195cm / 6'5'' - Shooting Guard / Small Forward - 1976    USA USA

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San Miguel, TnT Finals Match-up: Who Has The Upperhand? By: Ariel Ian Clarito - Jun 19, 2017


POSTED BY:
ARIEL IAN CLARITO
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Ariel Ian's Articles


Two established powerhouses meet in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals which will begin on Wednesday, June 21. San Miguel Beermen and TnT Ka Tropa both scored emphatic 3-1 wins in the semifinals to arrange a best of seven showdown for the 2nd conference crown.

TnT was the most dominant team in the PBA at the start of this decade, while San Miguel, the winningest team in PBA history, has been lording it over the competition these past 3 years by winning 4 out of the last 7 conference titles. Given the pedigree of both teams and their loaded line-ups, we can expect a finals series of titanic proportions.

San Miguel will have the edge in the battle down low with 6'8 Charles Rhodes and 3-time MVP 6'10 Junmar Fajardo forming an imposing twin tower combination that has proven to be a handful for all teams they have faced thus far this conference. Both Rhodes and Fajardo along with Arwind Santos form San Miguel's frontline rotation that average a combined 53.5 points and over 25 rebounds a game. The TnT frontline made up of Ranidel de Ocampo, Kelly Williams, Mo Tautuaa, and Troy Rosario has been mostly inconsistent this conference, with only De Ocampo averaging close to double figures at 9.94 points per game. Import Joshua Smith has been nursing torn toe ligaments and has been playing on one good foot, so this series is for the San Miguel frontline to dominate.

The backcourt is where things get interesting. It will feature Asia's best point guard, Jayson Castro of TnT, against the PBA's premiere defensive guard, Chris Ross of San Miguel. Castro and Ross lead the league in assists (Castro is averaging 6.9 while Ross registers a league-best 7.5 assists per game), so you can expect both to lead in orchestrating their respective team's plays and establishing order in the game. Castro and Ross will probably cancel each other out, so their respective backcourt crew will spell the difference in this series. TnT has a phalanx of guards in Roger Pogoy, RR Garcia, Kris Rosales, and Ryan Reyes, but it is only Pogoy who has been consistent offensively for the KaTropa. For San Miguel, Alex Cabagnot has been on a tear this season and has been lighting up the scoreboard, while Marcio Lassiter is still churning out averages of 14.88 points a game. The TnT backcourt will have to be at their defensive best to slowdown San Miguel which will have the advantage in terms of scoring punch.

What TnT will have the upperhand in is in the bench rotation. Coach Nash Racela usually utilizes 10-11 players in a game to ensure he has fresh legs to run his dribble-drive offense and the occassional pressing defense. If his team can make this a long series, his deep rotation might just outlast San Miguel which traditionally relies on a short 8-men rotation, with Coach Leo Austria giving some insignificant minutes to 2-3 more players every so often, more of the exception than the rule in Austria's coaching philosophy. Austria's starters average a minimum of 34 minutes per game, so if this series makes it to a game 6 or 7, TnT can be expected to be the team with more bounce in its steps.

The Beermen will be the solid favorites in the finals, although TnT will have a puncher's chance to pull off an upset. Both TnT and San Miguel have shown the ability to simply outshoot their opponents given the loads of talent both teams have. Unfortunately for TnT, in facing a team like San Miguel, the Katropas will not have enough to match the firepower of the Beermen who have 6 players averaging in double figures. TnT will have to turn this into a defensive battle and a long, grind out series for it to have a chance to at least make the finals a competitive affair. San Miguel plays basic, almost predictable basketball. It tries to impose its might down low and establish the post presence of Rhodes and Fajardo, and in so doing, open the floor for their gunners like Cabagnot, Lassiter, Ross, and Santos to snipe from outside or drive to the basket. TnT most likely already knows what to expect from San Miguel, but this will not necessarily translate to the Katropas knowing how to stop the Beermen's onslaught which will definitely come in waves during the entire finals series.   



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Gilas Pilipinas began its preparation for the FIBA World Cup qualifier this November by forming a 23-man pool from which the final line-up will be culled. Coach Chot Reyes, fully aware that rivals Japan and Chinese-Taipei already started training in October, chose players who made up the Gilas Pilipinas teams in the SEABA held in Manila last May and the FIBA Asia Cup held in Lebanon last August to ensure there is already familiarity with the system that the national team employs [read more]
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Boxing superstar and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao has officially launched a new league that aims to boost the basketball scene in the Philippines. This is the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) which is scheduled to begin on September 23, Through this initiative, Senator Manny Pacquiao hopes to further contribute to the development of basketball in the country, particularly at the grassroots level. Pacquiao, who is also officially listed as the playing coach of the Kia Pica... [read more]
Tim Lewis Boosts Gilas Preparations- Jul.30, 2017  (by Ariel Ian)

Respected coach Timothy Charles Lewis has recently been seen in the practices of Gilas Pilipinas which is preparing for the FIBA Asia Cup which is scheduled on August 8-20 and the Southeast Asian Games which will run from August 18-31. Lewis is a former lead assistant coach of the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA D-League. He also has extensive experience in the international scene, serving as head coach of the British Under-20 national team and assistant coach of the British senior men's nati... [read more]
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