The Week 5 of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup started with a triple-header slate on Wednesday. If you happened to miss yesterday’s games, here’s a quick rundown to keep you updated.
Bacolor Comeback 3.0
Facing a 16-point deficit early in the payoff period, the Magnolia Hotshots (6-2) stormed back to hack out an impressive 112-105 double-overtime victory over the NLEX Road Warriors (4-3).
- The Hotshots’ top four players again scored in double digits and made big plays down the stretch. Paul Lee put up two consecutive three-pointers to jumpstart Magnolia’s 22-3 run in the fourth quarter. Mark Barroca, who produced 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, came through with a clutch steal in the final seconds of regulation to spoil Jericho Cruz’ attempt to win the game for NLEX. Meanwhile, Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang top-scored for the Hotshots with 23 and 21 markers, respectively. The two former San Sebastian Stags also combined for 20 boards and alternated in providing their team with much-needed buckets in the two overtime periods. Magnolia has been relying on the consistency of these four players, and they delivered again on Wednesday.
- Sophomore power forward Aris Dionisio was Mr. Quality Minutes in this game. He only played in the second half, but came up with 11 points, including a step-back triple to force the second overtime. Dionisio showed glimpses of his offensive skill set during his rookie year in 2020, but he has yet to carve a consistent spot in the Magnolia rotation this conference, averaging only 9.1 minutes in the team’s first seven contests. He has a reliable outside shot to go with his 6-foot-5 frame, so he will be an intriguing piece in the Hotshots’ frontcourt depth moving forward.
- Jericho Cruz is the real deal. With Kevin Alas struggling with his shot (3-15 FG) then fouling out with four minutes to go in the fourth period, Cruz absolutely took over for the Road Warriors whether it was through scoring or playmaking. Cruz had an efficient 56% clip from the field, finishing with 21 points and 8 assists. He was fearless in driving to the rim, and had that beautiful pull-up jumper to give NLEX a 103-99 lead with 18 seconds left in the first overtime. It was a disappointing result for the team, but Cruz was the best player in this game.
San Miguel shuts down TNT
Having relied on their high-powered offense in their first five contests, the San Miguel Beermen (4-2) turned to its defense to give the TNT Tropang Giga (6-1) their first loss of the conference.
- Heading into this contest, we talked about how good the TNT defense is and how it will be tested against a San Miguel squad with tons of offensive weapons. It was a pick-your-poison situation for the Tropang Giga, and that was what happened in their first loss of the conference. They managed to force their opponents to have a rough three-point shooting night (26%), but the Beermen dominated inside as they outscored the Tropang Giga, 52-22, in the paint.
- For the first time this conference, San Miguel was able to limit their opponent to below 80 points. Entering the game, the Beermen gave up 92.4 points to their opponents, ranking them 8th in defensive rating (97.9). They were more effortful on defense in this game against the Tropang Giga, with all-around guard Chris Ross setting the tone with his game-high six steals.
- When will June Mar Fajardo regain his form? The six-time Most Valuable Player grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and tallied three steals, but he only attempted five shots and four free throws in 32 minutes of play. Coming off a long injury layoff last year, Fajardo probably did not want to strain himself, especially with San Miguel dominating for pretty much throughout the whole contest. However, the Beermen will surely need more from Fajardo heading into the stretch run to the playoffs.
Ginebra notches much-needed win
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (3-3) tallied a much-needed victory as they escaped the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (4-3), 83-77.
- Ginebra has always been a good passing team, and they again showed that ability last night. They compiled 23 assists as a group, which is just a shade below their best output of 25 assists in a win against Blackwater last July 23. There’s still more to improve, but the Ginebra players were more deliberate in their offensive sets, with Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio, and Christian Standhardinger all tallying at least five assists. The Gin Kings get most of their points via assists, as evidenced by their second-ranked 61.7% rating in assists percentage (AST%) this conference.
- Rookie Anton Asistio looked really good for the Elasto Painters. Before this match-up against Ginebra, Asistio only appeared in three of the team’s seven games and logged 10.7 minutes. But head coach Chris Gavina tested him out last night, and the point guard delivered with 14 points built on four hits from three-point land. Asistio played great, hounding full-court defense on Tenorio, and he showed good poise in handling the ball on the other end of the floor. With his combination of outside shooting and on-ball defense, Asistio could be an excellent rotation piece for Rain or Shine.
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__).