SLR 89, PF 96

On: 18 October 2007

This new section will try to examine the numbers behind the win or loss of SLR during the 33rd PBA Season. This is not an attempt to analyze the whole aspect of the game since there are some intangibles that are not captured by the numbers (i.e. aggresiveness, hustle plays, rotation, transition plays, among others), but, hopefully, a way to look at the most glaring reason behind SLR's performance in each game they played.

PBA Phil CupIn last night's game against Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants, the Sta. Lucia Realtors were able to stand their ground against the Giants in a tightly fought match marked by several hard fouls. Unfortunately for the Realtors, they ran out of steam and the Giants asserted their might and experience in the pivotal fourth quarter to score a come-from-behind victory.

The game was marred several times by hard fouls which led to the ejection of the Giants' Peter June Simon and the Realtors Norman Gonzales. Even RP team member James Yap blew his top off after colliding with Gonzales.

Nothwithstanding the physicality of the game, the Realtors encountered the same kinds of problems that have hampered their performance since 2002. Numbers after the game showed that these problems helped in hastening SLR's downfall:

Control the Boards, Win the Game

Fielding one of the tallest frontline in the league (Marlou Aquino, Dennis Espino and Kelly Williams), the Realtors can only manage to collar 42 boards against the Giants' 60. Out of the 42 boards, the three vaunted frontline accounts for only 16. Worse, not one of them can be credited to having the biggest haul for the team last night. That distinction went to Nelbert Omolon who was able to grabbed 8 rebounds. This has been the perrenial problem for the Realtors for three straight years now. It seems the Realtors need to be reminded that 'height is might' in basketball.

Where did that ball come from?

When Ryan Reyes and Christian Coronel were included in SLR's line-up, their main job was to orchestrate the plays and get the ball to the open player. Last night that did not happen. Sure, the Realtors had more assists than the Giants (15 to 9), but where did the plays emanate from? They mostly came from the drive and draw plays of Joseph Yeo and Omolon. Even the isolation plays designed for Espino drew some defenders out and allowed him to find the open man. What was missing last night were the deliberate set plays that originate from the point guards to the the 'end-user', the scorer. This was not evident last night and as a result, Reyes, Coronel and even Dennis Miranda can only combine for 4 assists for the entire ball game.

Dennis the menace to his team?

Dnnis Espino is the acknowledged leader of the Realtors as well as their first option in offense during crucial stages of the game. Well, he proved that again last night by scoring in double figures, 11 points and adding 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block shot for 31 minutes. However, those numbers mean nothing if you also turn the ball over 4 times, the highest for any Realtor last night. Miranda also added 3 turnovers for the team.

Last year, Espino led the team in the number of turnovers per game. It won't be surprising to see him lead the team again in this category. The coaching staff might have to remind Espino that leadership does not mean forcing your shot and barreling your way against a phalanx of defenders, especially now that the referees are allowing more physical contacts in the game.

Too many threes spoil the broth

For all SLR fanatics, it is a well known fact that the team rely heavily on their vaunted three-point shooting. They even led the league last year in the number and percentage of shots from beyond the arc. The new rule that shorten the distance of the three-point line was expected to benefit the Realtors, but if you are shooting 2 out of 8 for 25 percent or 1 out of 4 for another 25 percent, why continue shooting from downtown? These were the numbers of Paolo Mendoza and Nelbert Omolon last night from beyond the arc. Instead of throwing long-range bricks, Mendoza and Omolon would have better serve the team if they pass the ball to the players who have hot hands from that area last night, Coronel (50 percent) and Yeo (40 percent).

Practice freethrow makes perfect

Do they still require players to practice their freethrows during team scrimmages? If they don't, then maybe it is time that they should. This is one facet of the game that the Realtors have a hard time improving for several years now.

Free throws are crucial to a team's success. Making these unguarded shots 15 feet from the hoop separates the winners from the losers and this is what happened last night. The Realtors missed 9 out of their 27 attempts for 66.7 percent. They lost by six points. Maybe it is time for the team to hire a trainer whose main function is just to improve the Realtors freethrows percentages. A coach who saw the game last night has only four words to offer the Realtors who are shooting unguarded from 15 feet with almost all the time in world in their hands: "Ritualize - Visualize - Optimize - Capitalize".

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