19 February 2016

Worrying Numbers Despite Bolts' Three Wins

Jared Dillinger
The Meralco Bolts won three in a row to lead the standings in the elimination round of the 2016 PBA Commissioner's Cup. This was a surprised considering that they ended the All-Filipino Conference at the bottom of the standings with 1-10.

But anybody was impressed by their semi resurgence? Only a few really because those three wins by the Bolts were won by an average of only 3 to 4 points or 3.67 to be precise. Those are not convincing wins. Those are wins that could have gone the other way if not for that thing we call luck.

Swapping Mike Cortez and Sean Anthony out while bringing in Jimmy Alapag and future second round picks (2016 and 2017), has seen their D slide almost all the way to the bottom of the PBA.

Even the returning players don’t seem to have the same manic (but somehow organized) scrambling down, and it’s created wide-open shots all over the floor. The Star Hotshots made 36.0 percent of their shots from the rainbow area, while Talk 'N Text had 25.0 percent and Rain or Shine 42.0 percent.

Add to that the fact that they’ve allowed opponents to snipe away on corner threes and have constantly sent teams to the free-throw line (Star Hotshots: 24 FTs, Talk 'N Text: 34 FTs and Rain or Shine: 35 FTs).

Alapag just can’t bully his defenders in quite the same way in the dribbling department anymore, Gary David has seemingly lost half a step on offense and Reynel Hugnatan's defense is just a smidge worse than it used to be, which makes him just that much more unplayable on the other side of the floor.

Baser Amer's shot hasn’t shown up yet and neither has Chris Newsome (that last one is less age-related than Newsome being who he is). All of that, combined with import Arinze Onuaku's huffing back on defense, has caused Bolts' defense to slip from its typical top-five perch to almost at the bottom.

Without a top-five D to make up for it, Star Hotshots were able to get 34 points from fastrbreak, Talk 'N Text had 17 points from their running game, while Rain or Shine had 27 points and made Onuaku sue for a rest with the results critically undecided yet.

Everything Else
Ryan Buenafe made himself relevant in coach Norman Black's rotation, showed up to play but has been largely ineffective. He’s probably the of the underrated College players in Meralco and he has not shown any potential regularly. That’s a problem. Also a problem: there were no credible outside sniper aside from David and in some instances, Jared Dillinger.

On top of that, the Suns can’t seem to figure out how to make the rotation of Amer and Ken Bono work on a consistent basis. The Amer-Newsome duo was outscored in all of those three wins, which makes one wonder if Alapag-David tandem would have fared better.

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