The San Miguel Beermen got off to a hot start in their semifinal matchup against the Meralco Bolts, scoring a win in Game 1. Can the Beermen double down with another victory this Friday? Or, will the Bolts even it all up?
Catch this game live on Friday, August 5 at 3 pm, Manila time.
Meralco Bolts (0-1)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Aaron Black
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Allein Maliksi
- PF: Cliff Hodge
- C: Raymond Almazan
The Bolts will try again in Game 2 after getting crushed by San Miguel in a 121-97 loss. Meralco’s top guns that shined in the quarterfinals against the Barangay Ginebra sputtered in the series opener versus San Miguel, with Chris Newsome scoring just 9 points on 4/10 shooting while also committing 5 turnovers. Aaron Black, on the other hand, coughed up only 8 points on a salty 4/15 shooting with 3 turnovers.
Chris Banchero stepped up and led the Bolts with 17 points, but it’s hard to say that he will be able to be that good again, especially after going a perfect 5/5 from deep. Newsome and Black will just have to continue being aggressive, as cliche as that sounds, while Meralco can be a bit smarter defensively after giving up a ton of fouls that resulted in a +16 differential in free-throw attempts for the Beermen. The Bolts trust their defense, as they have ridden its success all conference long, so it will be interesting to see whether it returns to form this Friday.
San Miguel Beermen (1-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Chris Ross
- SG: CJ Perez
- SF: Marcio Lassiter
- PF: Rodney Brondial
- C: June Mar Fajardo
Rodney Brondial came out of nowhere in Game 1 to pull off a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Brondial is averaging fewer than 10 points per game this conference but seems to be taking on a bigger role in this matchup against Meralco with San Miguel knowing that the Bolts will gang up nonstop on Junemar Fajardo. And until the Bolts find a way to solve the way San Miguel uses Brondial, expect the Beermen to keep giving him plenty of minutes.
In Game 1, Brondial moved so well off the ball, used his size vs. smaller defenders, and ran the break hard. He is the perfect low-usage guy with high efficiency when used right to complement Fajardo, CJ Perez, and Marcio Lassister. Fajardo only had 11 points in the series opener but led the team with 5 assists. That unselfishness is putting Meralco in a bind. And there’s CJ Perez who tallied 25 points to lead all scorers. Anyone can explode on any given night for San Miguel.
Spread: San Miguel (-5.5) covers.
Over/Under: The total hits the Over (193.0).