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What happened to Alaska in Game Two?
by rick olivares
San Miguel didn’t back down from the physicality of Alaska.
If in Game One the Beermen complained to the point where they lost focus, last Friday night they gave some and took some but kept their eyes on the game. In one of the most rugged Finals matches ever, the Beermen were bloodied, sent crashing to the floor on several occasions, hacked and mugged, but they kept their focus. Even when Alaska took a brief lead.
The Beermen’s defense was better.
Sure Alaska lost the battle of the boards for a second consecutive game, 52-30. They lost on the defensive boards, 30-17, and gave up more second chance points this time around – 19-8. The slower game meant less opportunities to run which is what the Aces want to do as opposed to a slowed San Miguel squad.
They had as many blocks (five apiece), but registered more steals – a whopping 13 to five. Plus, Coach Leo Austria’s team fouled less meaning, less chances for entering penalty situation.
They allowed Chris Ross to play a big part.
Alex Cabagnot was still a no show and Jeric Fortuna looked very shaky. But Chris Ross, floor burns and all, played great. His Game One stat line was 2-8-7-3-3 (points, rebounds, assists, steals, and turnovers). While not as well rounded for the second match, Ross put up 12-2-5-2-1.
Alaska wasn’t able to stop SMB from taking the game in and around the paint.
Leo Austria diversified the Beermen’s attack. Rather than force the issue by feeding JuneMar Fajardo inside the lane, the wingmen attacked, Arwind Santos scored inside the paint. By the time the Aces were worrying about the other Beermen, the ball began to find its way to Fajardo who began to score in the second half.
They also allowed too many open perimeter jumpers. In the first quarter it was Arwind Santos scoring. In the third quarter, it was David Semerad (10 points) who hit huge baseline jumpers.
The Aces might have a few more points in the paint but the Beermen had a lot of shots from nearby.
SMB was able to pace their players and get significant contributions from a lot of players.
Leo Austria played 13 of his 14 players. Every single player who stepped on the floor contributed something to their overall effort. Even Justin Chua who played 31 seconds registered a block. Seven players scored in significant numbers spread across different quarters. In the first period, Arwind Santos carried the load for the Beermen. In the third quarter, it was David Semerad. In the fourth, JuneMar Fajardo got going.
In contrast, the Aces still got a load of their players to score but their numbers were down.
The Aces still got more production from their bench compared to SMB but this time the disparity wasn’t that huge (37-29 as compared to 61-20 disparity of Game One).
Now it’s Alaska’s turn to adjust. While the physical game helps, when they settled down to play basketball, they played better too.