The final week of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup eliminations will start with a double-header slate on Wednesday at the Don Honorario Ventura State University Gym at Bacolor, Pampanga. The NLEX Road Warriors will go up against the Meralco Bolts at 3:00 p.m., followed by a matchup between the Alaska Aces and the San Miguel Beermen at 6:00 p.m.
Here are a couple of things to be excited about in Wednesday’s double-header bill.
Will Fajardo get it going against Alaska?
With just one game left before they head into the playoffs, it’s the perfect time for June Mar Fajardo to finally be more aggressive in looking for his shots. Fajardo did not reach double digits in field goal attempts in four of his last five games, and it seems like he is reluctant to assert himself in the Beermen’s offensive sets. Per Stats by Ryan, an advanced stats platform for Philippine basketball, Fajardo has a 20.8 usage rate (USG%) this conference, placing him behind San Miguel teammates Terrence Romeo, CJ Perez, and Mo Tautuaa. This tells us that the six-time Most Valuable Player is not a part of the Beermen’s offense as much as he was before he suffered that fractured tibia injury last year.
But with the availability of the injured Terrence Romeo still up in the air, along with the absence of veteran guard Alex Cabagnot, Fajardo may have no choice but to carry a heavier workload the rest of the way. After all, he is still making more than half of his attempts, as he is producing an efficient 51.7% clip from the field; he’s just not shooting a lot. Fajardo can start getting into his groove against a desperate, playoff-chasing Aces squad that cannot afford to go winless in their next two games. However, the points won’t come very easy for Fajardo, as the Alaska defense forces opponents to a league-worst 41.8% clip from two-point attempts.
Can NLEX overcome Meralco’s high-ranking defense?
Despite the absence of star guard Kiefer Ravena, the Road Warriors are still putting up the buckets. With an average of 92.9 total points per contest, NLEX is ranked second just behind the talent-laden San Miguel. Don Trollano has been very consistent in his scoring in the previous four NLEX games, as he is averaging 15.0 points on a 45.5% shooting clip.
But Trollano and the Road Warriors are facing a Meralco defense that holds opponents to a second-worst mark of 37.8% shooting from the field. The Bolts are sporting an excellent 7-2 record this conference, and they’re doing that even though Chris Newsome, their top scorer, is only averaging 12.9 points. This means that it is a collective effort for them not just on offense, but more so with their work on the defensive end of the floor.
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__).