In playing cards, a King can never trump an Ace, and it seems the same has been true in the PBA as the Alaska Aces have won their last three games against the Ginebra Gin Kings. Alaska beat Ginebra, 104-98, in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup elims, 108-99 in the 2015 Govs’ Cup elims, and they ended Ginebra’s season with a 114-108 result in the 2015 Govs’ Cup quarterfinals. Can Ginebra break that losing spell against Alaska and finally break into the win column this season?
In their last game against each other, Ginebra actually erected an 16-point lead opposite Alaska, but the Aces refused to roll over. Alaska leaned on the troika of Romeo Travis, Vic Manuel, and Sonny Thoss to prevail over Ginebra and give the Kings the boot.
That theme of collapse was also present in Ginebra’s last game as they wasted an early double-digit advantage and lost to Barako Bull, 82-79.
Ginebra’s talent has never been in question. Rather, it’s the team’s resolve and character that has been cast under a cloud of doubt.
1. CAGUIOA & HELTERBRAND: TIME TO TAKE A STEP BACK?
– Given how Ginebra has been struggling this season, perhaps it’s time to see Mark Caguioa and JayJay Helterbrand really take a step back to let their teammates take charge.
Caguioa stats: 5.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0spg, 26.7 FG%
Helterbrand stats: 0.0ppg, 1.0rpg, 0.0 FG%
2. GREGZILLA IS NOT ENOUGH
– Greg Slaughter has been unstoppable so far for Ginebra, but that hasn’t translated into team success as the Kings have gone 0-2 to start the season. That’s not to say something is wrong with hoe Greg is playing. Rather, it’s a testament to how much more help he needs for the team to win. Even if he’s been playing so well, Greg’s production alone is not enough.
Last game: 27pts, 26rebs, 4asts, 2blks, 12/20 FGs
Stats: 27.5ppg, 20.0rpg, 4.0apg, 1.5bpg, 63.2 FG%
3. A TALE OF TWO JAPETHS
– Japeth had a huge opening game as Ginebra lost to Star, but he followed that up with a so-so performance against Barako Bull. What’s strange is that Japeth took 16 fewer shots in the second game compared to his first game. It has been a tale of two Japeths so far for Ginebra, and the fans will really want to see him play more aggressively.
Last game: 6pts, 5rebs, 3/5 FGs
First game: 26pts, 16rebs, 4asts, 1blk, 12/21 FGs
4. KINGS NEED HEART AND SOL
– The last time Ginebraplayed Alaska, the Kings got a huge lift from Sol Mercado. So far, however, the Sol Train hasn’t really been making his presence felt so much. For the Kings to be able to pull the rug from under Alaska, they will need a lot from Sol.
Last game vs ALA: 21pts, 3rebs, 7asts, 1stl, 8/13 FGs.
Stats: 4.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.0apg, 1.5spg, 30.0 FG%
5. THE TRIANGLE TAKES TIME
– Many people expected instant results after coach Tim Cone took the Ginebra coaching job, but, as many fans know, learning the triangle offense takes a lot of time. The big question now is how long will the Kings take for them to be effective in the triangle? Already, it seems the adjustment to yet another new system has taken its toll on Ginebra’s production.
– Last in scoring – 78.5ppg
– 1st in pts allowed – 84.0pts allowed per game
– Last in 3pt% – 22.0%
– Tied for 2nd in rebounding – 55.0rpg
– Most turnovers per game – 21.5 TOpg
– 2nd in 2nd chance pts – 15.5ppg
– Last in turnover pts – 9.0 pts off turnovers per game
6. CAN GINEBRA CONTAIN THE BEAST?
– Abueva is coming off a very fruitful stint with Gilas 3.0, and he has been playing with renewed confidence and fire. He won’t drop 30 points in a game, but he is a constant double-double threat, and the Kings will have to find a way to stop him or else they’re doomed.
Last game: 7pts, 13rebs, 1stl, 2/10 FGs
Stats: 11.0ppg, 9.0rpg, 1.5spg, 39.1 FG%
7. IS IT SONNY IN THE DESERT?
– Like Abueva, Thoss is coming off a good stint with Gilas 3.0. Thoss hasn’t really dominated for Alaska, but he is certainly an important piece for them. His presence in the middle can pose as a big challenge for Greg and Japeth. Without a doubt, A;aslawill need the Boss to play solidly for them to be able to survive Ginebra’s hulking frontline.
Last game: 6pts, 8rebs, 4asts, 1blk, 42.9 FGs
Stats: 11.5ppg, 7.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.0bpg, 58.8 FG%
8. WILL HONTIVEROS HEAT UP?
– The last time Alaska and Ginebra played, Hontiveros waxed hot, hitting 3 triples on his way to 13 points off the bench. Hontiveros is so good at spreading the floor and stretching the defense, making it easier for Abueva and Banchero and other Aces to operate in the lanes and around the basket. If he can catch fire here, Ginebra will be in big trouble.
Last game vs Ginebra: 13pts, 3 triples.
Last game this season: 5.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.5 triples per game, 42.9 3pt%.
9. PIVOTAL PG PLAY: LA TENORIO VS JV CASIO
– Point guard play is always crucial in any game, but even more so here, where the PG sets everything up for Ginebra’s triangle offense, and where someone like Casio is vital in balancing the offense for Alaska. Tenorio rebounded well from a forgettable first game by putting up better numbers against Barako, but he will need to be consistent with that kind of production. Casio, meanwhile, seems to be rejuvenated after a so-so performance last season, but he will have his hands full against a PG as dangerous as Tenorio.
Tenorio last game: 12pts, 5rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 5/17 FGs.
Tenorio stats: 6.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 3.0apg, 1.5spg, 22.7 FG%.
Casio last game: 10pts, 3rebs, 4asts, 1stl, 2 triples.
Casio stats: 13.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.0apg, 2.0 triples per game, 44.4 3pt%, 58.8 FG%.