PBA Commissioner's Cup Quarterfinals Preview: San Mig Coffee vs. Meralco

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The San Mig Coffee Mixers take on the Meralco Bolts in a best-of-three series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals. In the two meetings in the eliminations, San Mig Coffee won both times.

 

We should note that there’s a little bit of history between these two clubs. In the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup playoffs, Meralco and San Mig Coffee also met in the first round. The Bolts were able to snatch the first game but succumbed to the Mixers in Games 2 and 3.

 

Will the result be different this time around for Meralco? Or will the defending Commissioner’s Cup champions battle their way through the quarters again for a chance to win back-to-back titles?

 

WHY SAN MIG COFFEE WILL WIN

 

San Mig Coffee’s got momentum heading into the playoffs after winning their last three games to end the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations on a high note.

 

Their experience in this kind of situation will be vital and their familiarity with Denzel Bowles, who led them in last year’s playoffs, is an advantage they should capitalize on against a young, work-in-progress team like the Bolts. And you can’t discount the fact that they’re still the defending champions.

 

What’s interesting is that the Mixers have relied on their defense to get the best of Ryan Gregorio’s squad. They’ve clamped down Meralco’s offense – limiting the Bolts to less than 38-percent shooting from the field – and also controlled the boards in both wins in the eliminations. San Mig Coffee’s frontline of Bowles, Pingris (assuming 100% healthy), Devance and de Ocampo will be too difficult for Meralco to contain.

 

The offense will apparently come from James Yap (13.1 ppg) and PJ Simon (12.6 ppg), but Mark Barroca and Devance should provide contributions to take some load off the two stars in case Meralco’s defense (e.g. Cardona, Hodge) limits Yap or Simon.

 

And there’s the Tim Cone factor. I believe his experience and ability to make proper in-game adjustments and substitutions is better than that of Gregorio’s.

 

Infographic by Ralph Lee

 

WHY MERALCO WILL WIN

 

As I mentioned earlier, the Bolts lost in the first round last year at the hands of the Mixers, so they’re hungry for revenge. And this may be the best opportune time to get it.

 

Eric Dawson is a beast. And he’s got two 50-point games to back it up. He averaged 24.5 points and 13 rebounds against Bowles' defense, and once he gets into that zone and asserts himself on the offensive end, the Mixers are in trouble.

 

Mac Cardona and Sunday Salvacion – both who have the ability to explode at any given point in the game – must aid their import in terms of scoring. If they can knock down outside shots and spread the floor, it’ll give Dawson more room to operate inside.

 

The glaring stat for Meralco is the 12.0 assists that Chris Ross averaged in the two games against San Mig Coffee. Ross has created problems for his opponents by getting into the paint easily and either dropping off the ball to Dawson or kicking it out to his wingmen. He’s also the team’s defensive catalyst, which becomes a crucial factor in the series after the Bolts forced the Mixers to an average of 21.5 turnovers per game.

 

Not that I’m saying Meralco are dependent on Chris Ross’ play, but his contributions on both ends of the floor have a significant impact on the Bolts’ overall performance.

 

PICK: Meralco is a scrappy team but San Mig Coffee's experience and sheer determination to win this conference again will push them to the next round. Mixers in 3.

 

 

JC Ansis JC Ansis @jcansis
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