The Undermanned Meralco, a Fierce Defensive Battle, and What to Watch on PBA Saturday

Photo via PBA Images

The 2021 PBA Philippine Cup will resume with a double-header slate on Saturday at the Don Honorario Ventura State University Gym at Bacolor, Pampanga. The second-seeded Meralco Bolts will go up against the winless Blackwater Bossing at 2:00 p.m., followed by a match-up between the Alaska Aces and the TNT Tropang Giga at 4:35 p.m.

Here are a couple of things to be excited for in Saturday’s double-header bill.

Can Quinto step up again for the undermanned Bolts?

With Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge remaining under the PBA’s health and safety protocols for the second straight game, and combo guard Aaron Black sustaining a hand injury, the Bolts will be undermanned once again tomorrow. It’s fortunate, though, that they will be facing a listless Blackwater squad, who are just one loss away from owning the longest losing slump in league history.

Without their three key cogs, it will again be a collective effort for Meralco on the offensive end of the floor. Mac Belo would be their top scoring option tomorrow, but we would love to see another aggressive night from Bong Quinto. The former Letran Knights star produced a promising 2020 Philippine Cup performance that saw him notch a decent stat line of 8.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, but he has regressed a bit in the current conference. He always has that potential as an all-around wing, and he finally showed that versatility in the Bolts’ recent win over the Terrafirma Dyip.

Quinto led all scorers with 17 markers, and added eight boards and three assists to his tally. It was not a good shooting night for him, as he only made four of his 14 attempts, but his aggressiveness allowed him to go 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Quinto is a strong, wide-bodied wing who also has enough mobility to blow past defenders on his way to the rim. We saw his underrated finishing skill in the Terrafirma game, and he always has this kind of takeover ability when he’s looking for his shots. 

Photo via PBA Images

Expect a whole lot of defense in the TNT-Alaska battle

The Tropang Giga are aiming to finish the eliminations on a four-game winning streak, but that won’t come easy against an Aces squad that are one of the best defensive teams in this conference. In fact, we’ll be seeing a defensive battle tomorrow, as TNT and Alaska are ranked first and second in defensive rating with 88.0 and 90.9, respectively.

It’s interesting to see how Alaska would defend TNT rookie Mikey Williams, who has been on a scoring tear as of late. In his last three games, Williams has averaged 30.7 points on a very efficient 58% clip from the three-point line. There’s also the possibility that Jayson Castro is aching to get himself going on offense, as he has recently struggled, producing only 6.0 points on a lowly 8-of-21 shooting in his previous four performances. With Williams riding a momentum and Castro possibly looking for his shots to get into a groove heading into the playoffs, the Aces will face a lot of trouble guarding the Tropang Giga backcourt.

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__).


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