04 March 2011

Dandridge to be Replaced?

Anthony Dandridge
According to the SPORTING CHANCE column of Joaquin Henson with the Philippine Star, Meralco’s high-flying, Bible-reading import Tony Danridge may be on the way out despite averaging 30.5 points in his first two outings. The Bolts are still winless and that's a cause for concern. Coach Ryan Gregorio may be thinking of replacing Danridge with an import who is more of a fit for Meralco. Danridge is an open-court artist and unfortunately, takes away offensive opportunities from crack scorers Mac Cardona and Sol Mercado.

In Meralco’s game against Rain Or Shine on 27 February 2011, Danridge went crazy in the first half with five dunks. But when coach Yeng Guiao adjusted the Elasto Painters’ defense to clog the middle, Danridge lost his magic. Rain Or Shine toughened up and played physical as Hassan Adams, Ryan Arana and even Jireh Ibanes took turns shadowing Danridge.

Henson suggested that there must be a way for Mercado at No. 1, Cardona at No. 2 and Danridge at No. 3 to co-exist. Mercado has the ability to quarterback the Bolts and doesn't mind deferring to either Cardona or Danridge. Maybe, Gregorio's problem isn't so much Danridge not complementing Mercado or Cardona as the way the entire team doesn't play defense. The Bolts must make a commitment to play hard-nosed defense like Gregorio’s former B-Meg bruisers.

So far, Meralco has given up 115 points to Ginebra and 101 to Rain Or Shine. Any way you look at it, the Bolts’ defense sucked in both those games. Ginebra got away with shooting .475 from the field and Rain Or Shine, .461. By the way, Ginebra dropped 11 three-pointers on .478 shooting on Meralco and the Elasto Painters buried eight on .571accuracy. The figures glaringly showed that Meralco didn't contest the outside shots with conviction, didn’t stretch the defense and seemed content to gamble by allowing long bombs.

Danridge had no assist in the game against Ginebra – not a good sign. But it wasn't Danridge's fault that Meralco lost. The Bolts couldn't contain Ginebra import Nate Brumfield, lost the battle of the boards, allowed the Kings to compile seven more assists and gave up 11 triples. In the final reckoning, what did Meralco in was its failure to play consistent defense. It was the same story in the Rain Or Shine game.

Will there be more import switches? Teams are permitted to change imports even during the finals. At the moment, you can be sure that every team has a standby import waiting to fly in. That's how nerve-wracking the competition is in a short conference.

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