Barangay Ginebra unimpressive in return to ‘run and gun’ offense

Naveen Ganglani
Barangay Ginebra unimpressive in return to ‘run and gun’ offense
After losing to Meralco in their Commissioner's Cup opener, Ginebra's system is looking like 'run and done'

 

MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel opened their 2015 PBA Philippine Cup campaign with a lopsided defeat, falling at the hands of an improved Meralco Bolts, 85-74, at the Mall of Asia Arena last Tuesday, January 27. 

 

The game marked the debut of returning head coach Ato Agustin, who prior to the second conference proclaimed his team would revert to its traditional run-and-gun system after spending the last two conference trying to internalize the Triangle Offense of Jeff Cariaso.  

 

A return to the style that has defined the franchise would not bear immediate dividends however as Ginebra wound up with only 3 fastbreak points, as Meralco’s always-stingy defense and slow pace dictated the momentum of the one-sided ball game. 

 

Another downer for the league’s most popular team was the anticipated debut of Michael Dunigan, whose second tour of duty in the PBA began with an underwhelming outing.

 

The import finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, numbers that aren’t bad, but which pale in comparison to those of Bolts import Josh Davis, who scored 25 points and grabbed 24 rebounds. Ironically, Davis was Meralco’s backup plan after losing out on Dunigan to Ginebra.

 

LA Tenorio finished with just 3 points on a horrendous 1-of-12 shooting performance. Joseph Yeo wasn’t any better: 0 points on 0-of-8 shooting, while not making a single trip to the free throw line. Japeth Aguilar was invisible in his 12 minutes of action: 0 points on 0-of-1 shooting and 0 rebounds.

(RELATED: How Barangay Ginebra can rescue their PBA season)

 

Was there anything positive that Ginebra could take from their conference opener? Fortunately for the franchise’s fanbase – which was represented by hundreds of screaming fans outside the MOA Arena after the game despite the loss – Greg Slaughter performed well.

 

Slaughter registered 23 points, 16 rebounds, and hit a number of huge shots in the fourth quarter that cut Meralco’s lead to nine at one point.

 

 

The reigning PBA Rookie of the Year didn’t receive much help from his teammates, outside of Dunigan and Mac Bacarael (11 points). Yet, when asked how confident he was that his team could bounce back from their dismal showing versus Meralco, he responded, “very.” 

 

Why? 

 

“We [have] talent from every position,” Slaughter told Rappler. “It’s just about buying in to the game plan and sticking to it.” 

 

The question is, will the team buy in?  

 

Specifically, can they buy in to the proper offense that will translate to wins?  

 

Despite all the talk of “run and gun,” they have Slaughter, a 7-foot-1 behemoth who’s unstoppable once he gets deep position down in the block. They have Aguilar, another near 7-footer who can nail midrange jumpers and cause havoc on the pick-and-roll. Dunigan, who took 10 shots on Wednesday, is near impossible to shut down in the paint. 

Ato Agustin's return as Ginebra coach was spoiled by Meralco. Photo by Nuki Sabio/PBA Images

 

If that’s the case, then why did Ginebra take 28 threes, which yielded only 7 makes? Meralco converted also just 7 threes of their own, but they only took only 14 attempts from long range, as they concentrated in the paint and mid-range where they took 64 2-point attempts and earned 27 cracks at the foul line. 

 

Ginebra had 47 attempts from 2-point range and 22 free throw opportunities. 

 

“I think we took too many threes – 28 threes. We got a big frontline – especially our import is talented and skilled – we got to get him more involved,” said Slaughter. 

 

“I think we just [have] to get him more involved and take less threes.” 

 

He’s correct. But, doesn’t it sound like a broken record already by now? Three huge guys, all with the capability to alter the momentum of a basketball game towards their team’s favor. Yet like always, Tuesday happened: 28 3-ball attempts. 18 turnovers. Run and gun? On Tuesday, it was more like run and done. 

 

“You have to credit Meralco,” said Slaughter. “They’re always a high-energy team. 

 

“I think when you say ‘run and gun,’ definitely it’s not just looking for a fastbreak every time,” he later explained. “I think every possession is a fast break. When we don’t have it, that’s when we have to set up – especially when we have a tall line-up.” 

 

Slaughter said it best himself. 

(RELATED: Greg Slaughter and lessons learned from his first PBA season)

 

Once again, Ginebra is at a crossroads. They want to run and gun. You can’t blame them. It’s an exciting brand of offense. It gets a crowd up to its feet. The 3-pointer is the greatest equalizer in a basketball game; a weapon that has been most influential with how the game has evolved over the past few years. 

 

But it is not the best system suited for how Ginebra is currently constructed. 

 

“It’s just the first game. There’s still time to get adjusted to it. So hopefully we can make some adjustments and come back strong,” said Slaughter. The first opportunity to do so comes on Sunday, February 1, against Barako Bull.

 

But until then, their loss to Meralco has left another episode in Ginebra’s series of head-shaking displays. 

 

Rappler.com 

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