The final gameday of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup eliminations will present a do-or-die battle on Saturday at the Don Honorario Ventura State University Gym at Bacolor, Pampanga. With the last playoff spot at stake, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters will take on Barangay Ginebra at 4:35 p.m.
Here’s a quick preview of what could go down between the Fuel Masters and the Gin Kings.
We might witness a Stanley Special
This could be shaping up as another big scoring display from Ginebra star Stanley Pringle. In their first matchup last September 15, which the Gin Kings won, Pringle poured in 31 points on a very efficient 57% overall clip from the field, and made four of his six attempts from beyond the arc. These numbers are way above Pringle’s averages this conference, as he is currently norming 17.5 points on 44.8/ 32.7/83.3 shooting splits for a true shooting percentage of 52.6%.
The thing is that Phoenix doesn’t have a solid perimeter defender to match up with Pringle. Their guard depth is as follows: Chris Banchero, RJ Jazul, RR Garcia, and Aljun Melecio. By default, Matthew Wright is their best perimeter defender but you can’t expect your star scorer to also carry the lion’s share of the workload on the other end of the floor. Pringle should find it easier to find the bottom of the net today, so expect him to get extra aggressive against a Phoenix defense that ranks third-worst in defensive rating (102.8).
Expect Phoenix to exploit a particular Ginebra weakness
Ginebra will again be missing the services of Japeth Aguilar (MCL sprain) and Scottie Thompson (health protocols), and that will hurt them in more ways than one. The absence of Aguilar’s rim protection has opened the gateway for opposing teams to pound Ginebra inside the paint, but there’s also an argument that the loss of Thompson is more damaging to the team. Along with his excellent rebounding numbers, Thompson is also their most versatile defender, as he is averaging 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.
If you look at how Meralco recently dismantled a Ginebra team without Aguilar and Thompson, they did it by attacking the rim at all times (50 points in the paint), and winning the rebounding battle by a massive margin of 63-36. The Bolts grabbed a whopping total of 24 offensive boards in that game, and that’s something that the Fuel Masters can replicate today. Reports have it that the injured Vic Manuel will miss the game, but they can still rely on Jason Perkins to inflict a lot of damage against a Ginebra frontcourt that lacks interior defense. Remember that in their first matchup, Perkins got his way almost every time, scoring 30 points on a highly-efficient 59% shooting, while also hauling in eight rebounds.
A big game from Wright will always help their cause, but Phoenix can drastically improve their chances of booking the last playoff seat by actively attacking Ginebra on the boards and inside the paint.
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__).