For the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, this game is about as simple as clinching the top seed and the twice-to-beat advantage that comes along with it. Ginebra has struggled and hasn’t looked like the unstoppable juggernaut that they were since they beat the Petron Blaze Boosters on Christmas day. In the three games since then, they have eked out two wins against teams they shouldn’t eke out games from when they’re in top form, and they lost a game to their bitterest rival. Yes, they have held the top seed for quite some time now. But it doesn’t look like they’re anywhere close to being unbeatable or the unanimous best team in the league. Barako Bull just exposed a potentially fatal chink in their armor when they played zone against this team. Based on power rankings — ranking the hottest teams in the league — Rain or Shine should take the top spot. That’s why BGSM could find value in their last two games. Coach Ato can use the last stretch to iron things out and prepare his team to turn the playoff switch on.
For the GlobalPort Batang Pier, this game is about clinching a playoff spot. It’s pretty simple. If they upset Ginebra without J-Wash suiting up for them, they will be assured of a playoff spot and they can even stay away from a twice-to-win disadvantage in the quarterfinals. If they lose, there’s a chance that they will play the last game of the elimination round — a knockout game for the 8th and final seed against the Aces.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Will GlobalPort play zone for long stretches?
Y’all saw how BGSM struggled against the zone defense of Barako Bull in their last game. The zone cuts away a huge chunk of what Ato Agustin likes to draw up on offense. Playing zone basically negates their bread ‘n butter, the pick-and-roll, where LA Tenorio’s playmaking strengths are displayed and where Ginebra’s bigs can get easy buckets via hard roles and dives. Zone D also prevents BGSM from going to their second best source of points: Japeth Aguilar at the high post — play-action that leads to open shots or freethrows.
This part basically just shouts, “Hey Coach Richie! Play zone against these guys!”
WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR
Kelly Nabong and Jondan Salvador
Nabong and Salvador both stepped up in Jay Washington’s absence in their last game against Alaska. The two combined for 21 points and 26 boards. That’s against the thing frontcourt rotation of Alaska that played Thoss (The Boss just abused Nabong at the post) and Espinas major minutes. Can they carry their strong play over against the biggest and longest 4-5 tandem the league has ever seen? That might be too much to ask for rotation guys, but we’ll definitely see.
Photos by Paul Mata of InterAksyon.com/InterAKTV