2021 PBA Philippine Cup Quarterfinals: Ginebra Faces Huge Task Against League-Best TNT

The top-ranked TNT Tropang Giga hold a twice-to-beat advantage over the eighth-seeded Barangay Ginebra in their quarterfinals matchup in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.

Original photos via PBA Images

Team Stats Comparison

TeamsOffensive RatingDefensive RatingNet RatingPace
TNT100.3 (6th)88.9 (1st)+11.4 (1st)88.7 (6th)
Ginebra95.1 (10th)101.4 (8th)-6.4 (10th)87.4 (10th)
*Numbers courtesy of Stats by Ryan on Dribble Media

Key Individual Performers

Mikey Williams, TNT: 18.4 points (2nd) on 52.6% true shooting percentage, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 5.5 Value Over Replacement Player (2nd), 5.3% adjusted turnover percentage (4th)

LA Tenorio, Ginebra: 13.7 points on 54.5% TS%, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists (6th), 37% 3P%

Key Absences

Scottie Thompson, Ginebra (health protocols): 12.2 points on 56.5 TS%), 8.7 rebounds (8th), 4.2 assists (11th), 1.5 steals (6th), 1.3 blocks (6th), 5.3 VORP (3rd) 

Japeth Aguilar, Ginebra (MCL) – 14.6 points on 55.6% TS%, 6.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks (2nd)

Battle of the guards 

When you’re hyped up as the second coming of Stanley Pringle, you had to be a good player, right? TNT rookie Mikey Williams sputtered a bit in his first couple of PBA games, but the spitfire gunner is leading the charge for the best team in the league, and is currently in the running for the Best Player of the Conference award (read our recent BPC rankings here). 

With excellent numbers all over the place, it’s without a doubt that Williams is currently the most productive guard in this conference. He has shaken off his early shooting struggles, and has been scoring at will as of late. On top of that, Williams is also carrying the playmaking mantle for the Tropang Giga, and his low 5.3% adjusted turnover percentage (aTO%) is an indicator of his efficiency as a ball-handler. 

On the other hand, Pringle, the player that Williams has often been compared to, has been the least efficient among the Gin Kings’ famous guard trio that also includes LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson. The scoring and the overall production are still evident in the stat sheet — 17.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals. But Pringle is just making 32% of his five three-point attempts per game, and is committing 3.1 turnovers.

Pringle’s value to Ginebra has been relatively lower as compared to the past two seasons, but Thompson’s absence and Williams’ challenge will certainly fire him up against TNT.

Battle of the (older) guards

The guard matchup in this series is not just limited to the explosive Williams-Pringle battle. It’s always a great sight to see two former national team mainstays Jayson Castro and LA Tenorio go head-to-head in an all-important contest. 

At this late stage of their respective careers, the 37-year-old Tenorio and the 35-year-old Castro are still among the key cogs on their teams. Tenorio has been steady as ever for Ginebra this conference, as he is leading the team in assists while effectively limiting his miscues. Among the players ranking in the top 10 in the assists column, Tenorio has the lowest adjusted turnover percentage of only 8.5%.

As for Castro, his presence in TNT’s second unit has been a big part of their success in the eliminations. He hasn’t been aggressive as of late (only 24 FGA in the last five games), but he has done enough earlier on to prove that when he activates the switch, he is a deadly weapon for the Tropang Giga off the bench. Castro’s recent lack of activity has pulled down his conference averages, but expect the seasoned veteran to turn it up a notch in the playoffs.

Prediction: Mighty TNT proves too much for struggling Ginebra

As pointed out by Dribble Media’s Ryan Alba in his PBA team-by-team efficiency column, TNT is one of the five teams in this conference with a rare combination of good offense and good defense. In fact, they are leading the league in net rating (+11.4), which is an excellent indicator of just how balanced they are on both ends of the floor. Williams’ shot-making has been a big boost in their offense, and they are nothing short of dominant on defense. 

On the flip side, Ginebra is one of the three teams with an equally rare blend of bad offense and bad defense. The other two teams in this group are Phoenix and Blackwater — another evidence of how deep the Gin Kings have fallen in their current campaign. The eye test is yet to improve in terms of Christian Standhardinger’s addition to the team, and the absences of Thompson and Japeth Aguilar add more woes to their pile of problems on defense.

Ginebra will still put up a fight and may display some bits of improvement, but it’s improbable that they will make enough progress in time to beat the efficient, well-oiled machine that is TNT. 

Advanced Stats are now available for Philippine basketball! Through Ryan Alba’s ‘Stats by Ryan’, you can now look at team and player advanced stats for the current 2021 PBA Philippine Cup (and the previous three seasons) via the Dribble Media website.

Check out this glossary for a list of the basketball advanced stats terminologies.

You can also contact Ryan via his Twitter handle (@_alba__).

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