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What We Learned From Ginebra And SMB's PBA Finals Blowouts

For the Barangay, Justin Brownlee's seems to be in a one-man show
by John Paulo Aguilera | Jul 31, 2018
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The ongoing PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals between sister teams-slash-bitter rivals the San Miguel Beermen and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has proven to be the ultimate rubber match—each side has humiliated the other at least once to make for an interesting series.

The Barangay surprised everyone when it drew first blood in convincing fashion, 127-99, behind a blazing Justin Brownlee (42 points on 17-19 shooting). As expected, the Beermen, led by Alex Cabagnot's career-high 33 markers, tied things up in Game 2 with its own demolition, 134-109.

Brownlee told, "I'm sure neither team probably expects anybody to win via big margin," and, well, he isn't wrong. If anything, those two blowouts are enough for great coaches like Ginebra's Tim Cone and San Miguel's Leo Austria to make the necessary adjustments, just in time for Wednesday's crucial third meeting.


Wake up, Jeff Chan

The veteran gunner, who was acquired from the Phoenix Fuel Masters earlier this conference, has yet to hit (3 ppg 0-3 3pt 3 to in 21 mpg) and make a mark for the Barangay. Chan was expected to give them a boost in scoring and spacing, but instead have lost his touch after his best game in a Ginebra uniform against former team and semifinals opponent the Elasto Painters. The Negros Sniper has to rain or, err, rise and shine for them to have a chance.

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Brownlee can only get you so far

Save for the foul trouble and 13 fewer points, he virtually duplicated his monster Game 1 performance in the next match: 28-33 fg 10-13 3pt 12 reb 12 ast 4 stl 3 blk in two outings. Unlike his first two runs with the Gin Kings, it looks like Brownlee is locked in for Best Import with his versatility and ability to take over games. The only problem is that it also shows how dependent Coach Tim and his wards have become on their reinforcement's one-man show.

Dominate the paint

The team statistics were almost identical, but one glaring observation that worked for the Barangay was its inside play on both ends of the floor. In the opening match, 58 of Ginebra's 83 field goal attempts were taken inside the three-point line (as compared to 25 outside) and had eight blocks, compared to 14 two-point attempts short and only a couple of swats in Game 2. It's imperative that their towers assert themselves.

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Where is Chris Ross?

If Chan has been misfiring for Ginebra, the two-time Philippine Cup Most Valuable Player has been nonexistent (total of 4 pts 1-7 fg 5 reb 9 ast 2 stl 3 to), despite still suiting up for a decent 25-30 minutes per game for the stacked Beermen. Whether it's just a case of having too many weapons or him being bothered by that bum ankle, steady production from a Swiss Army knife-type of a player like Ross is a near-guarantee of San Miguel winning it all.

Use Christian Standhardinger wisely

This year's No. 1 draft pick has been superb in both meetings (23 ppg 18-29 fg 7.5 rpg 4 apg), although with mixed results. Coach Leo has to know what's best for the team—they lost when his prized rookie had more offensive rebounds (5), but won when he had more assists (5). Does this mean the Beermen are better off with Standhardinger in the perimeter? The Fil-German has to pick his spots and figure out the role he is most effective in.

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Keep championship composure

Arwind Santos and Ross were thrown out in the last quarter of the last game for a flagrant foul penalty 2 (elbowed Scottie Thompson) and two technicals, respectively. Renaldo Balkman and Standhardinger also had five fouls each, not to mention the two passionately complaining about some of the calls. Every San Miguel player, from June Mar Fajardo to Kelly Nabong, should display that championship mettle and never let their emotions get the best of them.


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