The NLEX Road Warriors defeated the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters with a 94-76 beatdown in the lone match of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Saturday gameday. Here’s how it went down.
Soyud goes almost perfect
Shaking off the lingering pain of the ankle injury that forced him out of the Road Warriors’ previous game, Raul Soyud came through on Saturday with a special performance of 17 points and 7 rebounds, missing only one of his nine attempts from the field.
When you look at Soyud’s physical abilities as a big man, everything feels average. He stands at 6-foot-5, which is quite undersized for a center, and he doesn’t have great foot speed or vertical athleticism to make up for it. But with his feathery touch inside the paint and at the mid-range, Soyud has been highly-efficient with his shots. This was one of the reasons why his name was included in the Gilas Pilipinas training pool for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last February.
In fact, Soyud’s 60% field goal percentage currently leads players attempting at least six shots per game. Looking back at the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, Soyud also put up an ultra-efficient 10.0 points on a 73.8% clip from the field. Soyud knows how to pick his spots on offense, and he doesn’t force his shots. WIth Kiefer Ravena out for probably most of the eliminations, Soyud may be one of the guys tasked to do a little more lifting. But can Soyud maintain this high level of efficiency if he adds more volume to his attempts? That’s something to look forward to in the next Road Warriors games.
Along with Soyud, combo wing Jericho Cruz also showed up for the Road Warriors. He paced the team with a game-high 19 points and added eight rebounds and four steals to his tally. Kevin Alas only hit three baskets in NLEX’s third straight victory, but he filled the stat sheet with his 11 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists.
Wright’s struggles continue
Fresh off from his game-winning jumper in the prior contest, we thought that Phoenix star Matthew Wright would finally put a stop to his shooting woes. Early in the game against NLEX, it actually looked like he would, as he made his first four shots in the opening period. However, Wright did not make any shot after that string of baskets as he went 0-14 the rest of the way.
But it isn’t just Wright who is struggling with his shooting as of late — in fact, the entire offense of the Fuel Masters is sputtering to start the conference. Per Stats by Ryan, an advanced stats platform for Philippine basketball, Phoenix is currently ranked third in possessions with 91.2 possessions per game, but they haven’t been able to make their shots and they are committing tons of turnovers. Look at how their offense stack up against other teams:
Phoenix’s Team Offense Rankings
|Field Goal Percentage
|True Shooting Percentage
The Fuel Masters can make up for their offensive struggles by doing good at the other end of the floor, but their defense also leaves more questions than answers. They are giving up 90 points per contest to their opponents, which is the fourth-worst in the league. Phoenix is also committing fouls at a high rate, which results in a league-worst 27.8 free throw attempts for their opponents.
This isn’t the same team that went 8-3 in the eliminations last season and came one win away from reaching the Finals. They may have lost Calvin Abueva to the Magnolia Hotshots, but the Fuel Masters also got two good newcomers in Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero. With a 2-5 slate and only four games to go, Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson and his wards will have to get their act together fast.
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 via the Dribble Media website.
Also, check out this glossary for a list of the basketball advanced stats terminologies.
You can also contact Ryan Alba via his Twitter handle (@_alba__).