PBA Saturday: Converge Faces Huge Test Against Tough Magnolia Defense

Saturday’s 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup games will pit the Phoenix Super LPG against the Bay Area Dragons in the curtain opener, followed by a battle between the Converge FiberXers and the Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots.

The FiberXers will test their mettle against a veteran, defensive-minded Hotshots squad on PBA Saturday.

Photo from PBA Images

Early Test for Converge’s Offense

In their conference-opener win against the Terrafirma Dyip, Converge accumulated 124 points — the second-largest total in a single game in this conference by far. Despite playing their first game under a new head coach and a new system, the FiberXers’ ball movement was better than expected (27 total assists on only 12 turnovers). Import Quincy Miller was good as advertised (38 points on a 52% overall field goal clip), and six local players contributed double digits in the scoring column.

But of course, it was against a Terrafirma defense that ranked dead last in defensive rating (114.0) during the 2022 Philippine Cup. On Saturday, Converge is going up against a more formidable Magnolia defense that produced a league-best 97.6 defensive rating last conference. They have a pesky pair of backcourt defenders; Mark Barroca (2.3 steals) and Jio Jalalon (1.8 steals) were both among the Top 5 in the steals category. Import Nick Rakocevic delivered a tremendous 45-point outing in their first game, while also showing the willingness to play defense. Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said that the high-motor Calvin Abueva will play versus Converge, so that’s another good defender to work with.

Taking good care of the ball will be vital for the FiberXers, especially with the fast-paced game that they play. More than his scoring, Miller also tried his best to involve his teammates in their first game. He dished out five assists, and probably a whole lot more if his teammates converted on some of his good passes. But Miller also incurred five turnovers, although it’s just their first official game after all. He should be able to communicate better with the Converge local players this time around — as they should against a Magnolia defense that’s very active in picking pockets and playing the passing lanes.

Aldin Ayo’s FiberXers have tons of potential, especially in an offensive system that displayed some unique sets in the half-court. Going up against a tough Hotshots defense should be great for them moving forward, particularly in knowing what works and what needs fine-tuning in their offense.

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