Palawan, while the National Basketball Association (NBA) is busy on building their teams during the summer off season, our very own Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup finals of the 2018-2019 season is well under way.

We are anticipating an exciting match up as we witness the resurgence of the Talk N Text basketball team behind the brilliance of team consultant Mark Dickel and head coach Bong Ravena against a somewhat undermanned but still mighty San Miguel Beermen.

Let’s take a look at the match up ala tale of the tape:

SMB (Starters) – Chris Ross, Terrence Romeo, Chris McCullough, Alex Cabagnot, Junemar Fajardo

Key Bench – Arwind Santos, Matt Ganuelas Rosser, Christian Standhardinger, Von Pessumal

Notable Absence:  Marcio Lassiter (injury)

TnT (Starters) – Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, Terrence Jones, Troy Rosario, Don Trollano

Key Bench – Brian Heruela, Jay Washington, David Semerad, Youssif Taha

Notable Absence: Ryan Reyes, Kelly Williams (injuries)

You will notice that both teams are down to a 9 man rotation, possibly ten if any of their injured teammates get back to active status.  At this time of the season, with foreign imports reinforcing the teams, it’s very typical of PBA coaches to limit the rotation to 8-9 players mainly because the imports typically play 40 minutes a game anyway.

My personal assessment is that this series is very much evenly matched.  The Beermen may still have the advantage in terms of players above 6’8 (they have Standardhinger, Fajardo and McCullough) against the Katropa’s Terrence Jones but the latter’s superb muscular strength and NBA prototype power forward body and agility is more than enough to clog the lane and protect the rim for the PLDT franchise much of the game.

The guards cancel out. On my last article, I mentioned that the norm nowadays is a 3 guard rotation in the PBA: Ross, Cabagnot and Romeo for the Beermen while TnT would have Castro, Pogoy and Heruela on certain spots together in the series.

Shooters are even with Romeo, Cabagnot, and Pessumal for SMB while the Katropa would have Pogoy, Rosario, Trollano and Heruela hailing shots from all corners.

It’s going to be a bench tactical war between Leo Austria and the Dickel/ Ravena pair and I expect this series to go the full route (game 7).

The difference could possibly be if the injured Lassiter can still make it to the series.  He can spread the floor more for the Beermen.  I’m sure that Talk n Text is following a similar approach in resting Ryan Reyes and would probably deploy him when Lassiter is let loose.  Reyes is not a pushover on the defensive end and can match up well against any team’s top outside wing.

As of this writing, the series is tied 1-1.  The key for the KaTropa is to maximize Terrence Jones’ strong inside presence. He’s capable to score at will. He can allow Jayson Castro to operate from the outside and feed him down low or kick out to the shooters.  It’s a simple but effective play they have deployed all conference.

For the Beermen, it’s the high – low tandem of Fajardo and McCullough that can sway the tide of the series to their favor.  I also expect Arwind Santos to flex his championship experience and leadership down the stretch.

This is a basketball match up primed and worth the hype.  No sister team side stories.  Two big corporate rivals battling it out on hard court.  This is a series for the Filipino basketball fan. A series worth watching, Palawan.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)

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