PBA Commissioner's Cup Semifinals Preview: Ginebra vs. Talk 'N Text

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After both Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text defeated their higher-seeded opponents in the first round, they now face each other in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Semifinals in a best-of-5 series.

 

Will Ginebra make their first Finals appearance under Coach Alfrancis Chua? Or will Talk ‘N Text get another crack at the Commissioner’s Cup crown for the third consecutive year?

 

How they got here

 

Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text both came out of the eliminations with a 7-7 record but because of the quotient system, Talk 'N Text fell to the sixth spot while Barangay Ginebra landed as the seventh seed.

 

The Tropang Texters had difficulty winning in the conference due to certain injuries to players like Kelly Williams and Ali Peek and they also had issues with their import – which they had to change twice. In the quarters, TNT defeated the Petron Blaze Boosters in two games and showed more consistency as compared as to what they exhibited in the eliminations.

 

For Barangay Ginebra, they started the Commissioner’ Cup with a four-game skid but fortunately, with the arrival of Vernon Macklin and the leadership of Mark Caguioa, things turned around as they mustered a six-game winning streak to put them in a position to make the playoffs. Facing a tough Rain or Shine team in the first round with a twice-to-beat disadvantage, Ginebra was able to pull off two narrow victories to occupy a seat in the semis.

 

Jerome Jordan vs. Vernon Macklin

 

Vernon Macklin reenergized a slipping GInebra squad midway in the conference with his flashy dunks and expressive on-court personality.  He averaged a little under 23 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists against the ElastoPainters in the quarterfinals. Macklin’s ability to pass the ball is impressive and will become a factor if he continues to find open guys when the defense collapses on him. Let’s not forget he likes to run the floor, too.

 

Jerome Jordan, meanwhile, was a late replacement and arrived just in time to finish off their last two games in the eliminations, where he averaged almost 21 points and 16 rebounds. But his numbers took a dive in the quarters, posting 11 and 5 in the two wins over Petron.

 

The only time these two imports met, Jordan got the best of his counterpart. The TNT import’s length bothered Macklin, who only finished with 12 points on 3 of 12 shooting from the floor, also forcing Macklin to five turnovers in that game.

 

Jordan should enter the series with a defensive mindset and must be focused to keep Macklin at bay, force him to take tough shots. If TNT uses Jordan as a defensive piece rather than relying on him for offense, they will have a better chance of advancing.

 

Infographic by Ralph Lee

 

Key factors for Ginebra

 

Mark Caguioa’s health: The reigning league MVP has been out for a month but is optimistic he’ll play in the semis. There’s no doubt that Caguioa’s presence on the floor can boost Ginebra’s offense and confidence, but the only concern is how long his legs can hold up.

 

Bench production: Ginebra improved their bench by acquiring Josh Urbiztondo right before the playoffs started. He, along with Jayjay Helterbrand, Mac Baracael and Kerby Raymundo should be able to provide quality minutes for Coach Alfrancis Chua to lessen the load on the starters. Their ability to spread the floor well with their outside shooting will immensely help Macklin’s inside game.

 

Running the break: Ginebra's strength relies on their ability to force turnovers and get out in the open court. It's always been a momentum-shifter for Ginebra, so Tenorio must always look for fastbreak opportunities - plays that Caguioa, Macklin, and Chris Ellis specialize in.

 

Key factors for Talk ‘N Text

 

Ryan Reyes: After averaging less than 8 (ppg), 3 (rpg) and 1 (spg) in the eliminations, Reyes upped his numbers to 15, 5, and 2.5 against Petron, where he also shot 45% from the field. TNT is welcome to any kind of offense coming from Reyes but what they need from him most is his contribution on the other end where he'll be relied upon to prevent Ginebra’s backcourt from getting good looks.

 

3-point shooting: If Larry Fonacier, Jimmy Alapag, Reyes, and even Jared Dillinger can his those threes on a consistent basis, TNT’s dribble-drive offense will be difficult to stop.

 

Control the boards: The Tropang Texters’ big men of Ranidel de Ocampo, Ali Peek, Rabeh Al-Hussaini must take care of business on the glass in order to thwart any attempt from Ginebra to run the floor – where they’re most deadly.

 

Prediction

 

It’s been a whirlwind type of conference for both clubs but this series will come down to who can defend better.  We all know that Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text can score a lot of points, and the team with proper adjustments on defense will most likely pull through. If Jordan keeps Macklin on the ground, Barangay Ginebra’s locals must step up.

 

The backcourt matchup will be interesting to watch. If Ryan Reyes can continue his stellar play, the Tropang Texters will become more lethal on the offensive end. Ginebra’s crowd will become a factor yet TNT’s experience and poise in crucial situations will overcome that. Plus, Norman Black is a better tactician than Alfrancis Chua.

 

Talk N’ Text in 5

 

 

JC Ansis JC Ansis @jcansis
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