PBA Fastbreak: Meralco shuts the lights out on Air21
The Best: Is there anyone who still doubts that Brian Butch is the NBA D-League’s version of Dirk Nowitzki? Butch came up big here, scoring half of his 40-point output in the final 12 minutes of play as the Bolts roared back from being 18 points down at the end of the third quarter to steal this game from the Express. Butch nailed 4 triples in all, making more than half of his 24 field goal attempts. He also hauled down THIRTY ONE rebounds while also handing out 3 assists and blocking 3 shots. Without him, the Bolts would definitely NOT be among the top four teams in the team standings.
The Worst: The Express were in a prime position to win, leading by 20 points with about a minute to go in the third period. They also wasted the huge 44-point debut effort of Wesley Witherspoon. He shot 12/18 from the field, including making 8 treys while also grabbing 9 boards. The writing was on the wall, however, as the Bolts outrebounded Air 21, 58-45, and outdid them in assists, 19-10. It also didn’t help that the Express lost their shooting touch in the final canto. They eventually ended up shooting under 40% from the floor.
Daring Dillinger: After an so-so start to the conference, the bearded Gilas pool standout was outstanding here, scoring 20 points on 8/13 FG shooting while also grabbing 4 boards and dishing out 8 dimes for Meralco. He came up big in the payoff period, too, hitting big shot after big shot in tandem with Butch to propel the Bolts’ amazing fightback. Hey, if Dillinger can continue to wax this hot, then Meralco might just be a dark horse contender in the knockout phase.
The Best: TNT made life difficult for Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio in this one, and the Texters were able to hammer out their sixth straight win to remain unscathed atop the standings. With the Kings having trouble executing their vaunted pick-and-roll offense, coach Norman Black’s Texters outdid their foes in assists (26-16) and forced them to more turnovers (11-8). TNT will have a seven-day rest coming up, but things get tough from there as they take on the previous conference’s finalists, San Mig Super Coffee and Rain or Shine, before ending the elims against the also-ran GlobalPort Batang Pier.
The Worst: Japeth Aguilar ended up with just 5 points and 2 rebounds here, shooting 1/6 from the floor in just 20 minutes of play. The dip in his production is notable, especially considering how he was one of the frontrunners for last conference’s Best Player award. The Gilas big man’s efficiency rating has gone down from the high 30s in the Philippine Cup to just 25.8 EFF in the Commish Cup. Of course, perhaps one can attribute this to the fact that import Leon Rodgers plays a similar position at the stretch 4, but I believe this is also a clear manifestation of how Ginebra has gone away from what was working for them early in the season. Here’s to hoping Aguilar gets back on-track.
RaniDirk: Ranidel De Ocampo may just be the most versatile offensive power forward in the PBA. He has a solid low block game, he can hit the three, and he can drive to the hole. All these he demonstrated against Ginebra in this game as the Gilas player shot 11/19 from the field to finish with 28 markers. He hit 4 triples while also finding seams in Ginebra’s interior D. If the Texter go deep into the knockout phase, then don’t be surprised if RDO becomes a leading candidate for the Best Player of the Conference. - Rappler.com