The Meralco Bolts and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel will add another chapter to their rivalry, as they open up their semifinals series this Wednesday inside the PBA bubble in Angeles City.
Meralco lost to Ginebra last month, but the Bolts have looked like a much better team since. Which team will strike first in this best-of-five series?
Catch this game live on November 18 at 6:30 pm, Manila time.
The Meralco Bolts (0-0)
The Bolts shut the door on the San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals round, ending the latter’s streak of Philippine Cup championships won via a comprehensive 90-68 win last Sunday. The Bolts are now on a four-game unbeaten streak, dating back to the elimination round, which they punctuated with back-to-back wins over the TerraFirma Dyip and the NorthPort Batang Pier.
Meralco’s defense was the main reason for their success in the quarterfinals, and in the conference thus far. The Bolts are allowing just 88.2 points per game with opponents shooting just 40.1 percent from the field and 31.5 percent from deep.
San Miguel shot just 33.3 percent in the two games in the quarterfinals against Meralco. That kind of defense will be key for the Bolts against Ginebra, which shot 52 percent in the first meeting between these two teams this conference, with the Barangay coming away with a lopsided 105-91 win.
Allein Maliksi and Reynel Hugnatan led Meralco in the loss to Ginebra with 18 and 16 points, respectively. But Meralco should be in a better position to win the semifinals series if it’s the likes of Chris Newsome and Baser Amer taking charge.
Maliksi is best coming off the bench, while Hugnatan is primarily there to stretch the floor on offense. Newsome led Meralco in the eliminations with 14.4 points per game, but put up just 20 points in the last two games.
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (0-0)
Ginebra took care of business in the quarterfinals the quickest way possible, as the Barangay sent the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters packing with an 81-73 win last Friday.
Rain or Shine finished the eliminations as the best defensive team in the conference, so that win offered a preview of how the Barangay can cut Meralco’s power on that end of the floor.
As usual, Ginebra tore it up on offense by moving the ball well against the Elasto Painters. The Barangay finished with 27 dimes and shot 45 percent from the floor. They also scored 48 points in the paint to just 36 by Rain or Shine.
That’s also the same formula the Barangay applied when they took down the Bolts last October, with Ginebra racking up 26 assists.
That’s not surprising, though, considering that the Barangay have three excellent playmakers rotating from start to finish in LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, and Stanley Pringle. In fact, Ginebra is averaging 24.9 assists per game and owns a 70.9 assists percentage.
Another advantage for Ginebra going into Game 1 of the semifinals is that it will have the fresher set of legs than Meralco, which only has two full days of rest between its last game and the semis. Ginebra, on the other hand, has four. The Barangay might opt to run on Wednesday if they sense that the Bolts are feeling any level of fatigue.
We expect Ginebra to push the pace right from the get-go, as the Barangay know that Meralco may have a hard time keeping up with their pace. Tenorio puts up a brilliant performance along with Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar on their way to a 97-89 win.