PBA Governors’ Cup Finals Game 3 Preview: Playing with Fire

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08:07 PM October 11th, 2016

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October 11th, 2016 08:07 PM


Given the way this series has been played so far, one thing is
clear — it’s explosive as hell and both teams are playing with fire. With a pulsating Game 2 win, GIN
has managed to tie the series, avoid a 0-2 hole, and bring us all back to square one. Now, it’s all
about regaining the initiative and advantage and move within a couple of wins of the GOVS Cup title.

It was an up-and-down affair in Game 2, but GIN proved to be a little bit more composed in
the endgame, and they hit the bigger shots in crunch time. Justin Brownlee, Sol Mercado, and Mark
Caguioa all stepped up big time for the Gin Kings, and they are expected to play well again in Game 3
and in this series. For that to happen, GIN will have to find a way for other main players like LA
Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar to make an impact.

As for MER, they rallied in the fourth period
but just fell short of getting a commanding 2-0 lead. Allen Durham, Cliff Hodge, and Chris Newsome
hit hard, but they will need to do a much better job on the boards and keeping their turnovers low. If
they are able to do that, they should be in pretty good shape in Game 3.

1. MISSING
IN ACTION: JAPETH AGUILAR

– Prior to the Finals, Japeth Aguilar did a very good job
filling in for the absence of Greg Slaughter, but he has since struggled against a smaller but quicker
MER frontline. Japeth will have to find a way to be a high-production player again if GIN is to make
more headway in this series.

Comparison:
First 17 games: 14.1ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.3apg,
2.5bpg, 48.9 FG%
Last 2 games: 6.0ppg, 10.5rpg, 0.0apg, 1.5bpg, 25.0 FG%

2. PROVIDING A SPARK: MARK CAGUIOA
– Veteran SG and GIN icon Mark
Caguioa has had an up-and-down GOVS Cup, but he has come alive in the Finals. He has given GIN a
big lift in their second unit, and if he can continue to be this productive, that’ll be one more big
headache for the Bolts.

Comparison:
First 17 games: 5.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.6apg, 40.0 FG%
Last 2 games: 12.0ppg,
4.5rpg, 1.5apg, 50.0 FG%

3. HEART & SOL
– Sol Mercado
stepped up huge for GIN in Game 2, hitting big shots and putting the clamps on MER import Allen
Durham. He will continue to be a significant barometer of success for the Kings, and should he
continue to perform well, GIN will have a really big chance to win it all.

Game 1: 8pts, 5rebs,
5asts, 1 triple, 3/8 FGs
Game 2: 12pts, 6rebs, 4asts, 2 triples, 5/8 FGs

4.
NIGHT AND DAY: JUSTIN BROWNLEE

– Brownlee struggled big time in Game 1, but he
bounced back in a big way in Game 2. His performances were as different as night and day! He was
more efficient in scoring, rebounding, and defense, and that’s what the Kings need, especially with
Allen Durham probably aching to bounce back in Game 3 as well.

Game 1: 17pts, 8rebs, 1stl,
2 triples, 7/18 FGs
Game 2: 32pts, 12rebs, 3stls, 3 triples, 12/26 FGs

5. DOWN
TO EARTH: ALLEN DURHAM

– After exploding for 46 points in Game 1, Allen Durham
was pulled back down to earth in Game 2 thanks to the stifling defense of GIN, especially Sol
Mercado. Durham still had a nifty double-double, but he turned the ball over a ton of times and
missed more than he made. For sure, the 2016 GOVS Cup Best Import is looking to redeem himself in
missed more than he made. For sure, the 2016 GOVS Cup Best Import is looking to redeem himself in
Game 3.

Game 1: 46pts, 7asts, 5 triples, 16/25 FGs, 0 TOs
Game 2: 22pts, 4asts, 2
triples, 10/24 FGs, 7 TOs

6. COOLING OFF: CHRIS NEWSOME

Newsome, one of the leading ROY candidates, had an impressive Game 1 line for MER, but he
struggled to do well again in Game 2. GIN locked in their defense on him, and Newsome couldn’t get
much going. Still, with a few other options, MER will rely again on their young gun to try and lead
them in Game 3.

Game 1: 17pts, 9rebs, 9asts
Game 2: 10pts, 4rebs, 4asts

7. UP AND UP: CLIFF HODGE
– Cliff Hodge visibly struggled in Game 1,
shooting just 1-of-9 from the field, but he recovered really well in Game 2, putting up a strong doubledouble
line. With Japeth Aguilar also struggling on offense, Hodge needs to take this opportunity to
be more assertive and dominant.

Game 1: 4pts, 6rebs, 1ast, 1/9 FGs
Game 2: 16pts, 11rebs, 2 triples, 5/12 FGs

8. GIN: MUSCLE IN THE HUSTLE
– Based on Game 2 hustle stats, the Gin
Kings were much more hardworking than the Bolts. This eventually spelled a big difference, especially
in such a tightly contested game. If GIN continues to play with a lot of hustle, it’ll feed the frenzy of
their raucous crowd, which will in turn fuel them to play even better. Of course, it goes without saying
that coach Tim Cone is a big fan of players diving for loose balls and closing out to contest shots.

Game 2 hustle stats:
Contested 2pt FGs: MER 9, GIN 16
Contested 3pt FGs: MER
4, GIN 8
Charge taken: MER 0, GIN 1
Loose ball recovery: MER 9, GIN 15

9. MER: ALWAYS GOOD TO SHARE
– MER’s calling card has been good ball
movement, and they have been proving that here in the Finals. MER is currently +4.5 in assists per
game after 2 games, and if they can continue to move the ball around well and make great plays for
their players, that will be a big boost for them for the rest of the series.

Assists:
MER –
24.0apg
GIN – 19.5apg

Newsome – 6.5apg
Durham – 5.5apg
Alapag –
4.5apg

10. MER: TURNOVER-PRONE
– MER has been quite TOprone
in the Finals, averaging 2 more TOs per game. GIN has exploited this well, scoring 14.5 pts off
TOs. That’s a big red flag for the Bolts, and it’s something they really need to address, especially after
giving up 20 pts off TOs in Game 2. Needless to say, that was a huge difference-maker.

Turnovers – GIN 12.5 TOpg, MER 14.5 TOpg
Pts off TOs – GIN 14.5ppg, MER 9.0ppg

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