22 October 2014

Start with the Best Five or Not

Meralco Bolts Starting Five
What will it be like to have Gary David, John Wilson, Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan and Jared Dillinger start at the same time for the Meralco Bolts? This is the scenario if Meralco starts with its strongest first five on paper, but we all know that won’t happen.

Chances are the Bolts won’t look a lot different in how they play with another set of combination. They can exploit their opponents with a barrage of shots in and out of the shaded lane, but they will also, most probably, suffer from high percentage of errors without a legitimate point-guard.

What coach Norman Black employed during the pre-season will most probably be the one employed by the team during the current Philippine Cup. With Mike Cortez still unavailable, the vastly improved Simon Atkins starts at the point. He will probably join Hodge, Hugnatan, Wilson and Sean Anthony and it worked in previous games, in the pre-season anyway.

Bolts fans should not worry about David coming off the bench. It will hardly matter in suppressing the team’s firepower with Wilson starting. And there is nothing to worry about size because most teams are downsizing anyway. It worked in the NBA with the Spurs dominating the Heat with undersize Boris Diaw at center.

The only variation I would suggest is to keep Anthony on the bench as the reliever of Hodge and use Dillinger as the starting small-forward instead or the primary sixth man. This should keep the Bolt’s second unit from disintegrating or short-circuiting like what happened last season under former coach Ryan Gregorio.

With David, Anthony, Phillip Morrison, Danny Ildefonso and Rey Gueverra comprising the second unit, the Bolts can still showcase a deeper offensive tool box to work with. David can initiate the offense for himself and others, while Anthony can provide a good perimeter shooter.

The Bolts were somewhere in the lower half in terms of pace last season, averaging close 85-90 possession per 48 minutes. However, they may have to play even faster to get the most of their athletic abilities and Wilson’s incomparable ability to push the ball in transition.

Another analyst suggested that the Bolts use "drag" and early actions to take pressure off of their half-court execution, which is sorely lacking. The “drag” action will allow the team to get early shots in transition, either for the point-guard – in this case Atkins – in a quick screen and roll, or for the small-forward or power-forward off of quick passes set up by spacing the floor properly.

Regardless of the system, though, Wilson and David should be just as effective in the screen and roll with Hodge or Anthony. The question is what will happen when defenses decide they're going to make somebody other than Wilson or David beat them, and get the ball out of his hands. Can Hodge, or Anthony, or Dillinger, make them pay?

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