PREVIEW: 2017 PBA Finals Game 1 – Barangay Ginebra vs San Miguel Beermen


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MANILA, Philippines – The stage for the PBA All Filipino Cup Finals is set where league-leaders San Miguel Beermen face crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings for the Game 1 of best-of-7 series starting Friday, February 24 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

2017 PBA Finals Game 1 – Barangay Ginebra vs San Miguel Beermen

In the entire finals history of PBA, these two dominant teams have already faced each other for four times where the Beermen have 3-1 advantage. But that’s history and it’s somehow non-bearing because of the changes in management, players and most especially in coaching staff.

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LIVESTREAM: Ginebra vs. San Miguel Game 1 PBA Finals 2017

Ginebra made a history last conference after ending its 8-year championship drought under the mentorship of multi-titled head coach Tim Cone. Ginebra also beat San Miguel in the semifinals round. But then again, it’s another side of the story. Gins beat the Beermen with prolific scorer-import Justin Brownlee on their side.

In this particular conference, San Miguel edged their sister team-rival. But then again, this particular victory can’t be counted in because coaches change their tactics depending on the situation. We all know that regular season is totally different from finals. It’s a sort of chess match where wood pushers don’t use the same strategy over and over again.

Breaking the “BeerGin” Rivalry per department:

Back-court. Both teams enjoy a luxury of talented guards in this specific area. The Beermen have Alex Cabagnot as the starting point guard and can be replaced by Chris Ross who are both clutch and shooters. On the other hand, Gin Kings have LA Tenorio on the top spot while the combo of veteran Sol Mercado and sophomore Scottie Thompson are phenomenal and effective on both offensive and defensive side. It’s almost a tie looking at both team’s starters and stringers. But hold up, the Beermen still have RR Garcia and Brian Heruela as backups. Garcia has been named best player for at least couple of games due to his 3-point shooting prowess. While Heruela provides body and muscle in defending an elusive and flashy guard. Backcourt obviously favors San Miguel.

Center. In one of his interviews, Coach Tim Cone admitted that June Mar Fajardo will be a major headache for him and his ward. He also revealed that he doesn’t have any plans yet on how to defend the “Kraken”. With Greg Slaughter still out due to injury, the 5 position is currently being manned by wing man Japeth Aguilar and Dave Marcelo. Their weakness in this specific spot got exposed when they faced the Star Hotshots in the semis. 6’6” Marc Pingris gave the 6’9” Aguilar a massive problem under the rim. Now, insert the 6’10” Fajardo in who is a 3-time MVP. His back-ups, 6’6” Gabby Espinas and another 6’10” Yancy de Ocampo who is also a threat from the outside. No brainer, another point goes to San Miguel again.

Forwards. Head to head match-up between Arwind Santos and Joe Devance. Joe Devance is really playing a quality basketball during the semis. He’s a legit big man who can shoot from the 3-point territory and who can do post plays as well. Arwind Santos is also a true shooter from the outside but he’s most of the time inconsistent in terms of contribution. Devance clearly wins over Santos.

Shooters. Both teams have excellent shooters. Star went down on game 7 because of Devance, Thompson and Mercado’s hot hands from downtown. Jay Jay Helterbrand spends most of his time on the bench but he’s still lethal despite of his age when on the floor. He killed Meralco Bolts during last conference’s championship. But, everyone’s afraid of Marcio Lassiter when it comes to shoot-out. Add Alex Cabagnot who’s super clutch and ex-Ginebra Ronald Tubid who was a true high-flyer-turned-assasin from the rainbow turf. SMB big men Arwind Santos and Yancy de Ocampo can shoot behind the arc too. The Beermen win this aspect, no doubt.

Super subs. No need to elaborate this furthermore, Ginebra gets the biggest chunk of the pie. Veterans Mark Caguioa and Jay Jay Helterbrand still got hoops obviously! The leadership and work ethics of the fast and the furious are still impeccable and outstanding. Rookies Kevin Ferrer and Aljon Mariano who were collegiate stars can be scorers in an instant. Meanwhile, San Miguel has Arnold Van Opstal, Keith Agovida and Rashawn McCarthy. Wait a minute, who are these gents again? Are you talking about Jay-R Reyes and David Semirad as reserves?

No need to tackle the crowd I guess. It’s been there for ages. Just give it to Ginebra! Ginebra! Of course, it’s an alliance of 3 combined generations. Grandfather, father and son who were all named after Jawo.

This will be a long series, no sweep. No sweep at all. I fearlessly predict, 4-2 in favor of San Miguel. But if this goes down to 7 games, Barangay will take its back-to-back titles.

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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