PBA: Meralco just can’t seem to get past bigger-bodied Ginebra in the playoffs

Santino Honasan on Jul 11, 2018 10:07 PM
Meralco just can’t seem to get past bigger-bodied Ginebra
“Whenever you look at the lineups itself on paper, were definitely the smaller team. They got a lot of bigger guys, and with that lineup you can do a lot with it.” - Chris Newsome

Wednesday night’s conference-ending loss to Ginebra in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals was an all too familiar feeling for the Meralco Bolts.

Meralco guard Chris Newsome watched as the Gin Kings walked off the court in celebration after a 104-90 win. Ginebra was going to the semifinals. The Bolts were going home.

In the last two editions of the PBA Governor’s Cup Finals, Ginebra had also gotten the better of Meralco, and while confetti didn’t fall down from the rafters this time around, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a playoff loss for the Bolts.

“Tough series.” Newsome said following the elimination. “We kinda got ourselves into a hole, then we tried to dig ourselves out that hole, but we fell short. They deserve the win, congrats to them.”

For Newsome, who put up 17 points in the loss, a big factor was Ginebra’s chemistry. The Gin Kings started off slow in the Commissioner’s Cup, and then eventually got back import Justin Brownlee, helping end the conference on a strong note.

“They're always a tough team, and I think their chemistry's really really good because they’re used to that lineup, they’re used to playing with Justin already, so there wasn’t much adjustment for them as far as as getting their chemistry together.”

As far as the Gin Kings having the Bolts’ number in the playoffs, Newsome says the big bodies in Ginebra’s front court is a huge factor.

While Meralco has found success against Ginebra in the regular season, the postseason, of course, is a different story.

“Whenever you look at the lineups itself on paper, we're definitely the smaller team. They got a lot of bigger guys, and with that lineup you can do a lot with it.” said Newsome.

“When you look at that, that’s just something tough, and when it comes down to it, you gotta hit your outside shots if they’re gonna dominate the paint. That’s something that we didn’t do too well in this series.”

Newsome added that making their outside shots was something that they failed to do in their past two postseason series losses to Ginebra as well, in the 2016 and 2017 Governor’s Cup Finals.

“Going back to the Finals series in Game 7, we didn’t really hit shots in that game either, and going back to the Finals the year before that, we didn’t hit shots either. Whenever you got a big squad like that, your counter's gonna be outside. I feel like that weil be the vest wsy to beat them, hit shots and force the bigs to come out and play the guards' game, basically. Because if you try to play their game, its gonna be tough.”

Meralco head coach Norman Black echoed Newsome’s sentiments, adding that it’s hard to compete with bigger National Team caliber players, given that they’re fielding a smaller lineup compared to Ginebra’s giants.

For reference, the Gin Kings have 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar, 7-foot Greg Slaughter, and 6-foot-7 Joe Devance in the front court.

Meralco, meanwhile, has a front that averages 6-foot-6, not including reinforcement Arinze Onuaku, who stands 6-foot-9. 

“They’ve got a very good team. I don’t have a seven-footer, I don’t have a 6’9” guy, basically national team players.” Black said. “Tim is a good coach, but he’s also coaching some really good players, so he’s taking advantage of it, he’s winning with them We’re trying to be as competitive as we can. It’s hard when we have 6’5”s matching up with seven-footers, but that’s just the way it is.”

“An example would be Leo Austria. He’s been winning a lot of championships lately, and that’s because he also has a very good team. Leo Austria was a good coach in Adamson, but he couldn’t beat the Ateneo team because we had a very good team in Ateneo. I had Greg Slaughter on my side, I had big guys on my side, so it also depends on your personnel, who you’re coaching.” Black added.

Quite an ironic example, seeing as now, Slaughter is on the opposite side of the court, giving Black and his team problems in the PBA.

“Luckily for Ginebra, they have a great coach and they have a really good team, that’s a good combination.” said Black.

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