PBA: Players who played better in Commissioner’s Cup

“We did what we were supposed to do on our home floor.” says Lowry after the Raptors beat the Bucks

In reinforced PBA conferences, one would naturally expect local players to have a dip in production due to teams focusing their offenses around their respective imports. But these guys didn’t.

Here, we take a look at four players who used the added attention placed on imports to their advantage and gave themselves memorable a memorable Commissioner’s Cup.

Roi Sumang, Blackwater Elite

2018 Philippine Cup Stats: 5.4 points, 2 assists, 0.8 steals, 32% FG, 23% 3FG
2018 Commissioner’s Cup Stats: 9.1 points, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 43% FG, 30% 3FG

The spitfire guard from the University of the East struggled mightily during the Philippine Cup. With defenses keying in on him as one of the main creators for a thin Blackwater squad, Sumang put up inefficient and underwhelming numbers across the board. But with the arrival of the Elite’s prolific imports (first Jarrid Famous, and then eventually Henry Walker), Sumang found himself with more room to operate and create offense.

After almost half a conference “preparing” for the Governor’s Cup with Henry Walker already in tow, Sumang hopes that his improved performance can help the Blackwater Elite improve upon their last place finish in the Commissioner’s Cup.

Raymond Almazan, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters

2018 Philippine Cup Stats: 9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.2 turnovers, 47% FG
2018 Commissioner’s Cup Stats: 15.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 turnovers, 51% FG

Although he is one of the better big men in the PBA today, Raymond Almazan isn’t exactly a “go-to” option for a team’s offense. The former Letran Knight gets his offense more from putbacks, drop passes, and the occasional spot-up jumper. But with Rain or Shine short on quality big men, Almazan was tasked to create more offense than he is capable of. This resulted in less open shots and high turnover numbers.

The Commissioner’s Cup showed a drastically different story for Almazan. With the burly Reggie Johnson reinforcing the Elasto Painters in the middle, Almazan was able to operate more comfortably as defenses shifted their focus away from him.

Chris Newsome, Meralco Bolts

2018 Philippine Cup Stats: 11.9 points, 4.3 assists, 37% FG, 36% 3FG
2018 Commissioner’s Cup Stats: 17.1 points, 5.6 assists, 44% FG, 48% 3FG

“Imagine if he had a consistent outside shot.”

This is probably the most used statement by fans and analysts when describing Chris Newsome’s potential in the PBA. While the former Ateneo standout is already a dynamic playmaker and one of the most dangerous players in transition, his inability to consistently hit outside jumpers limited his effectivity in the half court. Well, Newsome just showed us what his game would look like if he hit outside shots at a high level.

Chris Newsome hit a whopping 48 percent of his three-point attempts during the Commissioner’s Cup and it was a big reason for the Bolts’ turnaround from their 11th-place finish in the Philippine Cup to their top four seed in the Commissioner’s Cup. It could be unlikely that Newsome will continue to shoot at such a high rate moving forward, but if his outside shot has truly improved, then the rest of the PBA better watch out.

Vic Manuel, Alaska Aces

2018 Philippine Cup Stats: 13.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 45% FG
2018 Commissioner’s Cup Stats: 24.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.5 blocks, 58% FG

From being an overlooked workhorse to almost edging out June Mar Fajardo as the Best Player of the Conference, Vic Manuel certainly had a Commissioner’s Cup to remember. His 13.9 points per game in the Philippine Cup was already on pace to be a career-high, but he unfathomably nearly doubled that output (along with increasing his production in other areas) in the Commissioner’s Cup. His stellar play was the key for the Aces finishing as the second seed heading into the playoffs. It was also perhaps a big reason why Alaska was willing to let go of Calvin Abueva, their former franchise player, in a trade after the San Sebastian alum’s latest behavioral controversy with the team.

At already 31 years old, Manuel’s sudden and drastic increase in production is something not seen very often. The Aces surely hope that he can maintain that level of play for the coming Governor’s Cup and in future seasons.

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