04 March 2016

Bolts and Their Consistent Inconsistencies

Bolts Starting Five
With eleven rotation players at coach Norman Black's disposal, the Bolts are very unpredictable and they're winning because of it.

On their first game for this conference last 10 February 2016, Meralco showed the league why they should be considered as a team to be seriously considered this year. Good teams have a way of imposing their style onto their opponent and forcing them to adjust their game. With an offensive-minded guard rotation of the Star Hotshots, the Bolts dictated pace and shot selection by making those same guards work on defense against the larger combination of Baser Amer and Chris Newsome.

Meralco use their height advantage in the backcourt to crash the boards and overwhelm the Hotshots with 14 second chance points versus 3. Without Alex Mallari, the Hotshots did not have a defensive-minded guard unit to match the athleticism of the Bolts that likes to play at breakneck speed.

Defense is always the first crashing wave when a team faces the Meralco because of the Bolts' perimeter D. Generally, it has been Kelly Nabong and Bryan Faundo drawing the tough assignments of checking the opposing team's best 3 or 4, while Anjo Caram and Newsome that drew the guard threats.

RR Garcia was coming off a 33.0 point, 6.0 assists, 2.0 steals night against the NLEX Road Warriors and a few days rest, but Caram's played him tough his entire career. Garcia finished with 15.0 points off an inefficient 5-for-22 from the field with 2.0 turnovers for a -10 plus/minus.

Against GlobalPort Batang Pier, Terrence Romeo was averaging 27.0 points per game, Both Caram and Newsome put a clamped on that and limited his output to 18.0 points on a 4-for-14 shooting and 3.0 turnovers for a -11 plus/minus.

The Bolts' defense has slipped against Rain or Shine Elastopainters before pulling out a hard-earned win, so it was nice to see the team locked in collectively in their last two games. They finished with an 88.0 defensive rating, the first time that the team has finished with a DRtg less than 90 in the last 6 months. They've been one of the league's best teams defending the three pointer, but they've been lit up recently. In its last two games, their opponents combined shooting percentage was 16-for-58 from behind the arc.

Bolts are No. 1 in field goal percentage allowed with teams shooting only 40.1 percent against Meralco and they're No. 1 in three-point field goal percentage allowed at 30.5 percent. They are also No. 2 in assists, rebounds and second chance points allowed.

Defensively, they were locked in, but offensively, things weren't at rosy. Although the team is shooting 44.5 percent from the field (10th overall) in all 5 games, only three players consistently finished with 8-15 points in each of those games. Worse, their veteran sniper, Jimmy Alapag is in a slump, shooting blanks so far or 0-for-5 this conference. The team is shooting only 31.9 percent from beyond the arc, also 10th in the standings.

Fortunately, except for their import Arinze Onuaku, nobody really shined individually for the Bolts, but everybody contributed. Just as their defense has become their calling card, so has their balanced attack on offense.

The other stat that should warm Black’s heart is the Bolts are averaging 50.8 boards, No. 2 in the league, and that opens the window for Meralco to dictate the tempo in a game.

Six players are logging at least 20 minutes and 10, at least 15, so nobody has the monopoly of time except, of course, import Arinze Onuaku who’s clearly earning every cent of his paycheck by averaging 42.4 minutes. Onuaku is norming 20 points, 17.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 4.2 turnovers. He’s hitting 66.1 percent from the field, a lofty clip which is a trademark of his game.

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