February 28, 2017

Kraken is key for SMB

Where June Mar goes, SMB goes. That's just how it is for the defending champion, three-peat seeking, perpetual trophy hungry San Miguel Beermen.

Offensively speaking, June Mar has struggled a bit against the Kings this conference — and that's without Greg Slaughter, too! In three games against Ginebra, the Kraken has averaged just 12.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per outing, which is much lower than his conference averages of 19.3 points and 14.8 boards per contest. He is still capable of being productive, sure, as he showed in Game 1, but, somehow, he just cannot dominate the Kings as well as he can most of the other PBA clubs.

Perhaps this is due to Ginebra's size. Even without Gregzilla in there, the Kings can throw Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance at the Kraken, and both have certainly shown that they can at least hold their own against the Cebuano giant. Of course, it also goes without saying that coach Tim Cone's adjustments make life harder for the three-time PBA MVP.

So what do the Beermen have to do to get June Mar going early and often? Well, one thing is they will have to keep on hitting their outside shots. That should open up space inside for June Mar and make it easier for the ball to get to him in his sweet spots. Also, it's important that Beermen more consciously look for their prized slotman down low. Fajardo had only 5 field goal attempts in Game 2, and that just won't cut it. He also had 6 fouls in that game, which prevented him from really being aggressive on either end of the floor. The result? His plus-minus for that particular game was a dismal -12.

Not surprisingly, SMB, despite mounting a searing rally, fell short of the win and lost. Now the series is back to square one, with Ginebra getting a new lease on life and taking a lot of momentum into Game 3.

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How can SMB get back on the horse and take control of this series? They have to get June Mar going. It's that plain and simple.