Sunday, January 12, 2014

Contra Barako Bull, Barangay Ginebra's Achilles Heel: The Zone Defense

If anything, Barangay Ginebra's recent game against the Barako Bull Energy reveals what could possibly be the Gin Kings' Achilles heel: the zone defense. Not their zone defense but that of their opponent's, not necessarily Barako Bull's.

Emman Monfort handling the rock.
Image from

To be sure, Ginebra trumped Barako Bull by seven points, 90 against 83, at the last whistle. Yet it took the smallest man on the floor, Emman Monfort (5'6", incidentally a former Barako Bull before being traded to Ginebra), to lift a team as big as Ginebra back on its feet in the last half of the final quarter.

Ginebra trailed by as much as ten points in the third quarter. A large reason for their slide is Barako Bull's zone defense -- which makes sense, given that Ginebra primarily anchors its offense on its Twin Towers, Japeth Aguilar (Forward at 6'9") and Greg Slaughter (Center at 7'0"). Ginebra had to adjust. Adjust they did, except that they weren't able to do so immediately. A time-tested solution against the zone defense is the quick rotation of the ball in the perimeter until an outside shooter becomes free to take a shot. But by the time Ginebra did so, their shots weren't falling. Worse, Barako Bull fired back with consistent threes and perimeter shots, which was what Ginebra was supposed to do in the first place.

The long and short of this is that Ginebra needs to sharpen its snipers the next time the team has to deal with that pesky zone defense. Otherwise, they'll be having huge problems as they try to aim for the title. With ten wins and two losses while taking the top spot in the PBA Philippine Cup rankings eliminations round as of this writing, Ginebra should resist complacency.

Note: Although Greg Slaughter was the Player of the Game (14 points., 15 rebounds), credit should go to Emman Monfort as well for his pair of threes and defensive stops, enough to rally Ginebra to full steam again.

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