MANILA, Philippines – After winning emphatically against the Alaska Aces in the knockout game for a semis slot, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel was quickly shot back to the ground again by rival San Mig Super Coffee Mixers on Tuesday, January 28.
The Mixers drew first blood in the Manila Clasico best-of-7 semifinal series, 85-83, to get a head start in their bid to win back-to-back conference titles.
Mixers playmaker Mark Barroca played hero and decided his lone field goal of the game would be the game-winner, as he sank the tie-breaking one-hander in the dying seconds.
For San Mig Coffee, the key was a crucial basket made by one of their most reliable men on the floor. But for Ginebra, the game-changer was a turnover.
Prior to Barroca’s heroics, Ginebra committed a turnover on the inbound play as Mac Baracael could not find an open teammate. The lost possession proved extremely costly for GInebra.
“Yun pang importante nag-turnover kami,” said Ginebra head coach Ato Agustin after the game. “Pero dumarating sa game yun. Di naman namin kagustuhan yun. Kailangan yung adjustment namin [para sa Game 2].” (We made a turnover at a very important time. But it happens in the game. We didn’t want it to happen. We just need to adjust for Game 2.)
Both Agustin and primary playmaker LA Tenorio attributed their loss to breaks of the game not going their way as they fought tooth and nail throughout the contest.
Tenorio sees their disadvantage when it comes to experience.
“Experienced na sila [San Mig Coffee] sa gantong klaseng games,” he said of their opponents, who played their last best-of-7 affair in the most recent Governor’s Cup and produced a championship from it. “Sa mga series game, talagang mahirap silang talunin. I know coach Tim [Cone]. I’ve been with him for so many years. Alam ko talaga marami siyang baon.” (They’re very experienced in these types of games. When it comes to series games, they’re very tough to beat. I know coach Tim. I’ve been with him for so many years. I know he has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.)
Agustin and Tenorio are in agreement that their biggest downfall for that particular game was their inability to sustain their energy and pace for 48 minutes.
True enough, Ginebra started out strong and owned the first quarter 28-26. But they dipped drastically in the second period and only scored 12 points, going a measly 3-of-15 from the field.
They picked up the pace once more in the third and this time clamped down on defense as well to score 25 points and jail San Mig Coffee to just 14. However in the fourth, when it mattered most, their inconsistency bit them back hard, scoring only 18 in that quarter.
“Nakita ko doon sa stats talaga special yung second quarter and fourth quarter,” Agustin pointed out. “Parang di namin ma-sustain yung energy namin. Second quarter we scored only 12 points, fourth quarter 18 points. But in the first and third, at the start of the game, maganda yung energy namin.” (I saw in the stats that the second quarter and fourth quarter were special. We didn’t sustain our energy. Second quarter we scored only 12 points, fourth quarter 18 points. But in the first and third, at the start of the game, we had good energy.)
Tenorio echoed the same sentiment. “We came out strong pero hindi namin na-sustain kung paano sila nag-adjust right away.” (We came out strong but we could not sustain how they adjusted right away.)
The impact and timing of the dips in their game at crucial points of the match and how it affected the outcome is much more evident considering that Ginebra shot more efficiently from the field than San Mig Coffee, 44.8% (26-of-58), while SMC went 42.9% (27-of-63).
What’s more, in spite of Ginebra’s size advantage, they were once again out-rebounded 50-43. In their second meeting during the eliminations, San Mig Coffee was even more dominant on the boards, 62-39.
The key for Ginebra to bounce back and even the series tonight, according to Agustin, is to stay disciplined and look for their teammates at all times.
“We need to be disciplined. Sometimes, nagkakanya kanya [kagaya] nung last [part of Game 1]. I think okay kami sa first quarter. Then second quarter, last 6 minutes, parang nagkanya kanya. One pass, shot.” (We need to be disciplined, sometimes we do everything ourselves like during the last part of Game 1. I think we were okay in the first quarter. Then second quarter, last 6 minutes, we didn’t share again. One pass, shot.)
For Tenorio, the times they don’t move the ball around as much allowed opportunities for the Mixers to set up their offense–one that proves deadly for the Mixers’ opponents.
“Medyo kulang pa kasi may parts ng game na nagkakanya-kanya,” he said. “Kasi every time na gawin namin yun, we’re giving SMC [a chance] to set up their half court offense.” (We were lacking because there were parts of the game that we weren’t sharing the ball. Every time we do that, we’re giving SMC a chance to set up their half court offense.)
In spite of the times they weren’t moving the ball as much, Ginebra still registered more assists than the Mixers at 19-18. They also took better care of the leather and limited their miscues to just 13. They forced San Mig Coffee to commit 17 turnovers and cashed in on them for 24 points.
Tonight, Ginebra will be looking to even things out by playing more consistently and plotting timely runs.
“Kailangan talaga to always remind them to execute the play, move the ball, extra pass,” Agustin said. “Teamwork talaga dapat.” (I really need to always remind them to execute the play, move the ball, extra pass. We really need teamwork.) – Rappler.com