Coach Gallent Emphasizes Defense as San Miguel Beer Prepares for Crucial Quarterfinal Matchup Against Converge FiberXers
San Miguel Beer NOW has even more justification for listening to coach Jorge Gallent.
Gallent said that the Beermen needed to play with “pride” in defense to beat the Converge FiberXers in the first game of the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Due to SMB’s higher seed in the final eight, they will have a significant advantage in the upcoming best-of-three matchup against seventh-seeded Converge at 4:30 p.m.
The Beermen finished the eliminations with back-to-back victories, while the FiberXers lost three straight.
However, Gallent has stated that his team can’t rely on its storied offense alone in the playoffs, saying instead that his players must “be good in our defense, to have pride in it.”
Surely even Vic Manuel would have to concede. The bulky forward said that the team’s defense was a major issue after Friday’s 129-116 victories over Rain or Shine, in which he scored 23 points to share team scoring honors.
“Surely that’s the time we’ll be allotted when we finally get around to practicing.”
It’s hard to fault Gallent and Manuel for stressing the importance of stopping, especially in the face of Converge.
First, the FiberXers beat the Beermen 107-103 in their lone elimination round meeting on February 11. This was when the Beermen still had June Mar Fajardo, who is now out with an MCL injury until at least the semifinals.
And then there’s Converge, whose roster features the relative unknown of new import Tom Vodanovich in place of Jamaal Franklin, who had a falling out with coach Aldin Ayo.
Vodanovich, a 28-year-old member of the New Zealand national team, has played professionally in New Zealand and Australia and at James Madison University in the NCAA.
Many scouts have praised Vodanovich, calling him “a solid all-around player.” This is supported by the fact that he scored 20 points in the Tall Blacks’ 88-63 victory over Gilas Pilipinas in the Big Dome last February, a Fiba World Cup Asian qualifying game. Ayo’s system may be a good fit for him, but that has yet to be determined.
One thing is certain about Manuel. “We need your help at this point, especially since June Mar is no longer available,” he said.
Coach Gallent’s emphasis on defense is understandable, as it is often the key to winning crucial games, especially in playoffs. It is good that San Miguel Beer recognizes this and is working towards improving its defense to advance to the semifinals. However, they must realize Converge, a new import player in Tom Vodanovich, has already shown his capabilities in international competition. With June Mar Fajardo out with an injury, San Miguel Beer must be careful to rely on something other than their offense and take pride in their defense. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in their best-of-three matchup against Converge FiberXers and what the pba odds are for this game.