The cliché is to throw away all the numbers during a Game Seven of any series in sports. We’re hard-headed here in IBT, so we’re throwing that suggestion away and still take a good hard look at the stats the past six games in the best-of-seven series among the PBA’s best teams in the Governors’ Cup, the San Mig Coffee Mixers and the Petron Blaze Boosters.
The Blaze Boosters had a chance to take a commanding 3-to-1 series lead in Game 4. However, the Coffee Mixers eked out an 88-to-86 victory in that close affair to force the series tie at 2-2. And then the following game, San Mig pulled off the upset again, surprisingly grabbing the 3-to-2 lead in the series. Petron pummeled SMC in Game 6, 99-88 to force the rubber match set at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
So, who has the edge in this do-or-die affair? We found out a few things after crunching the numbers:
At first glance, it appears that the powerhouse Petron squad prefers the up-tempo style, high-scoring affairs since they are the deeper and more loaded offensive team. However, the raw numbers speak otherwise.
In three wins, SMC has cracked the century mark twice-- 100 in Game 2 and 114 in Game 5, and both times they came out as winners. In wins, they average 100.7 PPG while limiting Petron to just 94.0 PPG.
Meanwhile, in three Petron wins, the Boosters averaged 96.3 PPG and have contained the Mixers to just 80.0 PPG.
Does this mean that the Mixers will win Friday night if they indulge the Boosters in another high-scoring affair? Or conversely, if the Boosters contain SMC down to 80 points, will they be the one taking down the championship?
Those are only raw score totals so we dug in a little deeper to define the pace, possession and efficiency of both teams play (Per basketball-reference, “pace” is defined as an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes by a team.).
Here are the basic formulas for possession and (offensive and defensive) efficiency:
POSSESSIONS = FGA + (0.44 x FTA) + TO – OReb
OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY = 100 x (Points / Possessions)
DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY = 100 x (Opponent points / Opponent possessions)
And here are the key numbers from both teams’ in this series:
|SERIES AVERAGE||PETRON BLAZE||SAN MIG COFFEE|
|FIELD GOAL ATTEMPTS||78.2||72.5|
On the average, Petron is actually outscoring SMC by roughly five points the entire series—however, the bigger stat is the fact that the Boosters are more efficient offensively and defensively—they score 110.4 points per 86.2 possessions. The Mixers, meanwhile, are just scoring 102.0 points in, even though they average more possessions (88.5) than Petron.
Despite the bad atrocious free throw shooting of SMC reinforcement Marqus Blakely (51.1 per cent in this series), the Mixers have had the advantage from the line because of the sheer volume of shots-- (+78 more FT over Petron).
However, the Mixers’ advantage ends there. In other key areas, namely offensive rebounds (+11) and turnovers (-3), Petron has the slight margin. And in a very close series, that needs a seventh game to decide the outcome, those fringe gains can be crucial.
Reinforcing the Reinforcement
Obviously, the game will go down to who executes better—especially in the end game. And more importantly, which team will provide local help to their respective imports.
Blakely and Petron’s reinforcement Paul Millsap are practically a wash. Blakely is known more for his hustle and defense with averages of 22.1 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.7 SPG and 1.2 BPG, while Millsap has logged in 32.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 4.8 APG and 2.3 SPG in this Finals.
How crucial is local support for their respective teams?
In SMC wins (aside from Blakely):
In Game 2, six locals scored 8 points or more led by James Yap's 17 points and P.J. Simon's 16 points.
In Game 4, five locals scored in double-figures led by Marc Pingris' 15 points and 11 rebounds.
In Game 5, four locals scored 9 points or more led by Mark Barroca's 22 points and 10 assists.
In Petron wins (aside from Millsap):
In Game 1, five locals scored in double-figures led by MVP Arwind Santos' 16 points.
In Game 3, four players scored 9 points or more led by June Mar Fajardo's 19 points and 9 rebounds.
In Game 6, four players scored in double-figures led by Fajardo's 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Prediction: Petron Blaze Boosters 90, San Mig Coffee Mixers 82 (Fajardo named Finals MVP)
Ultimately, one player’s consistent performance has been the most noticeable in this championship round.
Fajardo's Giant Leap
Elims (9 games): 9.3 PPG and 8.5 RPG
Finals (6 games): 18.5 PPG and 14.5
The Cebuano center has more than doubled his points output from the elims and has dominated the glass as well. SMC head coach Tim Cone has done a good job of putting him outside his comfort zone in some games, but overall, he’s been playing like a seven-footer over outmatched bigs from the other side. In Game 7, he’ll once again get his usual (dominating) double-double. Add Millsap’s scoring (high 20s) and contribution from Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz and Alex Cabagnot and Petron is well on their way to their 20th title in franchise history.
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