2015-16 PH Cup Semis Preview: GlobalPort Batang Pier vs Alaska Aces—The Hunger Games

GlobalPort and Alaska are two of the hungriest teams in the league right now. The Batang Pier have never been able to advance past the quarterfinals, and this is a huge milestone in their young franchise’s history. On the other hand, the Alaska Aces, despite being among the league’s perennial contenders, have not won a title in the past couple of seasons, and they are definitely looking to finally bag the big one this time around.

Global continues to defy expectations this conference. They finished among the league’s top five clubs at the end of the elims, beat the Barako Bull Energy in the first QF phase, and then survived crowd-favorite Ginebra in the second phase. This will be their biggest test yet, and it will be very interesting to see how they perform amidst this kind of pressure.

Alaska has put together a dominant showing this conference, winning nine games and losing their other two games by an average of only 3.5 points. With such a deep and balanced roster, the Aces are the hands down favorites in this match-up, but they also know they cannot overlook the Batang Pier, who have enough firepower to pull the rug from under Alaska.

1. GLOBALPORT: BREAKING THROUGH

Prior to this conference, GlobalPort’s best performance was making the QFs of the 2015 Govs’ Cup. The Batang Pier have certainly surprised a lot of people with their stellar play, and that has happened in no small part because of the explosiveness of dynamic duo Stanley Pringle and Terrence Romeo. Of course, there are other players who have contributed to their winning run, while coach Pido Jarencio’s trademark three Ps (Pride, Puso, Palaban) have undoubtedly rubbed off on his wards, too. They showed this in their landmark win over Ginebra in their last game, surviving a much deeper and taller squad to enter the semis. Can GlobalPort continue making breakthroughs against such a proud and storied franchise like Alaska?

GLO’s first season: 2012-2013
GLO’s best finish: Quarterfinals (4x) – last time in 2015 Govs Cup
*Prior to this season, GLO had never won a playoff game. Now they are 2-0 in the PHL Cup playoffs. Their current 9-4 record is also their best.

Key stats vs GIN:
TOs – GLO 13, GIN 21
Blks – GLO 7, GIN 3
3pts – GLO 11, GIN 8

“They’re definitely the best backcourt, almost saying it as a Fast and Furious 2.0,” Mamaril said about teammates Terrence Romeo & Stanley Pringle.

2. ALA: WE NOT ME

Alaska proved to be the best team this conference, winning 9 of its 11 elims games, and being one of only two teams to beat defending champ SMB. The Aces are also 2nd overall in assists per game, which is a testament to their focus on the “we not me” mindset. Because of their teamwork and fluid playmaking, the Aces are currently #1 in the league in FG%, and have nine guys scoring 6 or more points per game. Compare that to GlobalPort, which has just seven guys scoring 6 or more points per game. It’s a testament to Alaska’s depth and effort to involve as many people as possible on offense.

Key stats vs BAR:
Asts – ALA 27, BAR 15
FG% – ALA 48.1%, BAR 37.0%
3pt% – ALA 44.4%, BAR 30.2%

3. ABL ALUMNI: PRINGLE VS BANCHERO

One interesting match-up in this series will be between ABL alumni Stanley Pringle and Chris Banchero. Pringle played for former ABL champions Indonesia Warriors before, while Banchero plied his trade for San Miguel’s ABL team. Both were highly-touted coming into the PBA because of how well they played in the ABL, but it seems Pringle has had the more illustrious career so far here in Manila. Banchero has had his moments, of course, but his production is significantly less stellar than Pringle’s. That can changer here, though, if Banchero can really be a main guy for the Aces, and if he can limit Pringle’s overall impact.

Pringle Stats: 21.1ppg, 8.0rpg, 4.2apg, 2.3 triples a game, 46.9 3pt%, 52.5 FG%
Banchero stats: 8.9ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.7apg, 33.3 3pt%, 44.6 FG%

Last game vs each other:
Pringle: 16pts, 7rebs, 2asts, 1 triple, 6/10 FGs
Banchero: 14pts, 3rebs, 1ast, 5/9 FGs

4. BANGAYAN NG MGA BAGONG BIDA NG GILAS: ROMEO VS ABUEVA

One explosive match-up will be between Gilas 3.0 teammates Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva. Both guys accounted well for themselves in 2015 during their stints with Gilas, but now they find themselves on opposite ends again in the PBA. These are two of the most explosive and most fun guys to watch in the league, and it will be interesting to see how their contrasting styles will be pitted against each other. Romeo will surely be his flamboyant self, putting on a show with his shooting and ball-handling, while Abueva’s energy and aggressiveness should give the Batang Pier a lot of headaches.

Romeo stats: 23.9ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.2apg, 3.3 triples per game, 32.6 3pt%, 39.4 FG%
Abueva stats: 13.4ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.0apg, 1.4spg, 32.0 3pt%, 44.1 FG%

Last game vs each other:
Romeo: 33pts, 3rebs, 5asts, 2stls, 7 triples, 10/25 FGs
Abueva: 11pts, 5rebs, 3asts, 1 triple, 4/10 FGs

“Sa totoo lang, na-motivate talaga ako ng husto noon,” Romeo told InterAksyon.com in an exclusive interview. “Nabasa ko yung story na yun kaya na-motivate talaga ako.” – on Romeo’s meeting team owner Mikee Romero’s challenge to take his team to greater heights

5. HIGH OCTANE OFFENSE VS AIRTIGHT DEFENSE

– When one talks about GlobalPort, one cannot help but marvel at their offensive explosiveness, but when one talks of Alaska, one cannot discount the Aces’ great defense. GlobalPort is just an offensive nightmare. They are among the league’s top 4 in scoring, 2pt FG%, fastbreak pts, and 2nd chance pts. They are also second in the league in 3pts made right behind Barako. On the other end, Alaska has found a lot of success because of its defense. The Aces are #2 in FG% allowed and tops in forcing turnovers. They are #3 in steals and #1 in scoring off their foes’ turnovers. It’ll be a battle of contrasting styles, and it will surely be very exciting to watch.

GLO key offensive stats:
Scoring – 99.6ppg (#3)
2pt FG% – 48.3 (#3)
Fastbreak Pts – 12.2 (#4)
2nd chance Pts – 12.7 (#4)

ALA key defensie stats:
FG% allowed – 39.96% (#2)
Steals – 7.2spg (#3)
Opponent’s TOs – 20.1 (#1)
Pts off TOs – 17.5 (#1)

6. FIERY FRONTLINES: J-WASH/KRAMER VS THOSS/MANUEL

– Both clubs are known for having very good backcourts, but the battle up front and in the shaded lane will be crucial as well. Alaska has the bigger names in Sonny Thoss and “the Muscle Man” Vic Manuel, but veterans like Jay Washington and Doug Kramer have so far been very solid for GlobalPort. Alaska has a slight edge in size overall, but the versatility of GlobalPort’s big men can also give the Aces some fits. If Washington can hit his jumpers and Kramer can keep Thoss/Manuel in check, though, then the Batang Pier have a fighting chance.

Washington stats: 9.6ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.2apg, 1.2spg, 1.0bpg, 1.1 triples per game, 38.2 FG%
Kramer stats: 8.8ppg, 9.2rpg, 53.5 FG%

Thoss stats: 11.0ppg, 5.7rpg, 2.1apg, 53.9 FG%
Manuel stats: 16.4ppg, 8.0rpg, 1.2apg, 1.4spg, 53.5 FG%s

Last game vs each other:
Washington + Kramer: 17pts, 23rebs, 2asts, 2blks, 38.9 FG%
Thoss + Manuel: 30pts, 16rebs, 3asts, 3stls, 66.7 FG%

7. GLOBALPORT X-FACTORS: JOSEPH YEO, KEITH JENSEN, & BILLY MAMARIL

GlobalPort is undoubtedly going to live and die with the performances of Romeo & Pringle, but a few guys will also have to step up for them to be competitive. These are veterans Joseph Yep and Billy Mamaril and young wingman Keith Jensen. Yeo and Mamaril will have experience to lean on as they try and guide their younger teammates in this series, while Jensen brings a lot of intangibles to the table. He will probably also have to match-up with Calvin Abueva often, so his level of play will be very critical.

Yeo stats: 9.4ppg, 2.7rpg, 2.2apg, 1.2 triples per game, 31.7 3pt%
Mamaril stats: 6.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.2apg, 1.3bpg, 53.6 FG%
Jensen stats: 8.7ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.6apg, 1.2spg, 1.0 triple per game, 30.8 3pt%

“I’m happy for them. This is the first time they go to the semis. Me as a veteran, I’ve got to guide them,” Mamaril said about his team.

8. ALASKA X-FACTORS: JV CASIO, CYRUS BAGUIO, & DONDON HONTIVEROS

Alaska also has its share of veterans who are expected to give the team a huge lift. In particular, backcourt mates JV Casio, Cyrus Baguio, and Dondon Hontiveros will all need to really bring their A-games for Alaska to not feel the brunt of an upset. All of those guys need to hit their long shots and at the same time be able to hang with GlobalPort’s version of Fast & Furious. Otherwise, the Aces may fall into the same fate as Ginebra

Casio stats: 10.4ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.0apg, 1.7 triples per game, 42.2 3pt%, 45.9 FG%
Baguio stats: 9.4ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.0 triple per game, 31.4 3pt%
Hontiveros stats: 6.9ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.2apg, 1.8 triples per game, 46.5 3pt%, 45.6 FG%

9. LAST MEETING: ALASKA BEAT GLOBALPORT, 123-104

– In their previous meeting this season, the Aces demonstrated total team effort in dismantling GlobalPort, 123-104. With eight players scoring in double-digits, Alaska easily snapped the Batang Pier’s three-game winning streak. Cyrus Baguio led the Aces with 17 points, while Vic Manuel got 16 markers, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals. RJ Jazul, Chris Banchero, and Sonny Thoss all had 14 points. Terrence Romeo finished with 33 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds for the Batang Pier. Backcourt mate Stanley Pringle played through foul trouble all game long, but he was still able to contribute 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.

Key stats:
2nd chance pts: ALA 23, GLO 14
Pts off TOs: ALA 22, GLO 9
Pts in the Paint: ALA 62, GLO 46
Rebs: ALA 57, GLO 49
FG%: ALA 51%, GLO 40%
3pt%: ALA 42%, GLo 25%

*These two teams have split their last four games against each other, 2-2.

Best Performers:
Vic Manuel (ALA) – 16pts, 8rebs, 3stls, 6/11 FGs.
Terrence Romeo (GLO) – 33pts, 3rebs, 5asts, 2stls, 7 triples.

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