A Battle of Contrasting Styles, the Streaking NLEX, and What to Watch on PBA Wednesday

Photo via PBA Images

The Week 5 of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup will kick off with a powerhouse triple-header bill on Wednesday at the Don Honorario Ventura State University Gym at Bacolor, Pampanga. The first match will feature the Magnolia Hotshots against the NLEX Road Warriors at 12:30 p.m., followed by an exciting battle between the league-leading TNT Tropang Giga and the San Miguel Beermen at 3:00 p.m. The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters will then test the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel for the third game scheduled at 6:00 p.m.

Here are some things to look forward to on PBA Wednesday.

TNT’s defense against San Miguel’s offense

It will be a battle of two contrasting styles as TNT stakes its unblemished record against San Miguel. A quick look at the statistical rankings of these two teams will show you how different they are in terms of how they play this conference.

TNT and San Miguel’s Statistical Rankings 

TNTSan Miguel
Points86.5 (7th)97.6 (1st)
Offensive Rating98.4 (5th)103.5 (2nd)
Opponent Points76.0 (2nd)92.4 (11th)
Defensive Rating85.8 (1st)97.9 (8th)
Pace88.6 (7th)92.4 (1st)
(Numbers provided by Stats by Ryan, an advanced stats platform for Philippine basketball)

It will be exciting to see how the Beermen will attack the Tropang Giga’s vaunted defense. Will San Miguel continue to try to outpace their opponents, or will they try to slow it down a bit and feed June Mar Fajardo in the post? Fajardo is currently averaging 9.6 field goal attempts, his lowest mark in the previous five conferences, including those that he had to share the offense with high-scoring imports. 

On the other hand, it’s also interesting to know if the top-ranked TNT defense can hold up against a San Miguel team with so many weapons on offense. In their previous games, the Tropang Giga have been so good at forcing the opposing teams’ best players to have off nights. If they want to replicate that feat, it will be a pick-your-poison situation for them as the Beermen currently have six players averaging double digits in the scoring column — Marcio Lassiter’s 9.8 points per game isn’t even in that list.  

Terrence Romeo will definitely be at the top of TNT’s scouting report. The San Miguel scoring guard is putting up 23.0 points, along with a fourth-highest 7.6 rating in box creation, an advanced metric that takes into account a player’s scoring and playmaking ability to evaluate the number of scoring opportunities that he creates for his teammates (Learn more about BoxCr here). If Romeo can maintain this high level of scoring and playmaking against a stringy TNT defense, he might get that front-running position for the Best Player of the Conference award.

The Streaking NLEX faces huge test against Magnolia

Riding a good momentum following their three consecutive wins, the Kiefer Ravena-less Road Warriors are in for a difficult match-up against the Hotshots. As a team, NLEX has been playing excellent basketball this conference, as they are ranking first in the league in offensive rating (103.6). They have exceeded expectations, and the question now is whether they can keep this up without Ravena.

In their first two games without their lead guard, the Road Warriors checked all the boxes. Their defense limited Alaska to only 74 points, then held Phoenix to only 76. On offense, Kevin Alas and Jericho Cruz showed that they are capable of both scoring and playmaking. Along with averaging double digits in scoring, Alas and Cruz are also ranked in the Top 20 in assists this conference. 

But it will be NLEX’s defense that will be tested against Magnolia. With Paul Lee, Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Mark Barroca, the Hotshots have four players sitting in the Top 20 in scoring. The consistency of these four players makes the Hotshots a really tough team to figure out on offense. 

Photo via PBA Images

Can Rain or Shine improve their offense?

From the defensive end of the floor, you cannot ask more from what Rain or Shine is doing. They are holding opponents to a league-worst mark in points (74.9), which boosts the Elasto Painters’ defensive rating to second-best in this conference (88.8). But as we pointed out in our recent Power Rankings, the team’s offense sits at the bottom of the league with low marks of 73.7 points (12th), and an 87.4 offensive rating (11th).

Rain or Shine needs to improve their offense to at least an average level, and they can start doing that against a Ginebra defense that has been mostly lethargic this conference. After ranking at the top half of the league for the past four conferences in terms of defensive rating, the Gin Kings are only currently seated at 9th (99.1). In their three losses this conference, Ginebra gave up an average of 92.7 points to their opponents. On the flip side, their defense only gave up 83 points per game in their two wins. 

Much has been said about how newcomer Christian Standhardinger will fit in on offense, but Ginebra has to focus a lot more on elevating their defense moving forward. It will be a very difficult week for the Gin Kings as they are also set to face the Beermen on Friday and the Tropang Giga on Sunday.


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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