The first installment of the Manila Clasico lived up to the billing, as the Star Hotshots drew first blood against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in a close match, 78-74, in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
It has been a while since Star figured in low-scoring affair, but Chito Victolero's wards had enough to dispose Ginebra and extend their winning streak to seven games, thanks to newly acquired guard Paul Lee who came through in the clutch. The Barangay, on the other hand, looks to bounce back and tie the series in Game 2 of the semis tonight.
This matchup between the league's most popular ball clubs is expected to be this highly competitive, and their fans are hoping that the series will go down the wire. But before that could even happen, both teams should make the necessary adjustments to make this an exciting one
With that in mind, FHM did a by-the-numbers analysis and broke down the game statistics that mattered.
What doomed it for Ginebra
LA Tenorio's shooting percentage in 40 minutes. Tinyente shot a forgettable 2-7 from two-point area, and 1-4 beyond the arc. The Barangay will need more from Tenorio, who carried the offensive load against the Alaska Aces in the quarterfinals, if they hope to get past the Hotshots.
Turnovers. Both teams actually didn't do a good job taking care of the ball, but the fact that Ginebra has seven more miscues than Star is a cause for concern. What's worse was the fact that 12 of them were committed by the Gin Kings's three-headed monster in the backcourt—Sol Mercado had 5, Scottie Thompson 4, and Tenorio 3.
Thompson's total rebounds (team-high). The smallest guy on the bench can't be your team's top rebounder, no matter his uncanny nose for the ball. BGSM's big men—we're looking at you, Japeth Aguilar—need to put in more work on the glass, especially with Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter sidelined with injuries.
What won it for Star
The disparity of field goal attempts between the Barangay and the Hotshots (68 to 81). While Ginebra (39.1%) shot a tad better than Star (38.3%), true, but the latter was able to create more opportunities to score, which matters in such a tight game.
Starting backcourt's total points. With Allein Maliksi yet to find his shot in the playoffs, Lee (18) and Mark Barroca (17) took care of the scoring themselves and handed their counterparts a sound beating. With this kind of production from Angas ng Tondo and Coffee Prince, the Hotshots will be tough to beat.
Marc Pingris' combined steals and blocks (three each). Gone were the days when Pinoy Sakuragi had to take up the scoring cudgels for his squad. All Ping has to do now is become that Draymond Green-type of player (on top of 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists) and let his teammates dominate the offensive end.