The Golden State Warriors (GSW) won their third National Basketball Association (NBA) crown in four years via a 4-0 sweep of nemesis Cleveland Cavaliers. They were the favorites to win the title but most expected a tighter battle between the two champion teams that met in the finals for four straight seasons. As great as LeBron James is, his greatness was not enough to overcome the extraordinary scoring trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and now back-to-back Finals MVP Kevin Durant. It’s like Superman taking on the Avengers all by his lonesome. GSW truly adheres by the motto “Strength in Numbers,” and they achieve all these feats by working together. Unfortunately for the Cavs, James got very little help. James was enough against the other teams. But not against Golden State.
In the Finals, GSW averaged 116 points per game (PPG) as opposed to the Cavs’ 101
. They also shot better (51.3% vs. 41%), had more dimes (27.8 assists vs. 21), and had eight blocks per game, four more than the Cavs. LeBron and company got the better in rebounding, mainly because of their offensive boards (16.8 vs. 6.8).
Individually, the disparity is even greater. James topped all scorers in the finals with 34 PPG, followed by Durant (28.8 PPG) and Curry (27.5 PPG). Cleveland’s next best scorer was Kevin Love with 19 PPG, good for fourth place. After Love, Thompson (16 PPG), Andre Iguodala (9.5 PPG) and the Cavs’ JR Smith (9.5 PPG) followed. Rounding up the Top 10 scorers are Warriors Draymond Green (9.3 PPG), JaVale McGee (8 PPG) and Shaun Livingston (7.5 PPG). So only three Cavs made it to the Top 10. The Cavs nearly stole Game 1 if not for some questionable calls and Smith’s boo-boo in endgame. But in that game, James dropped 51 markers on Golden State, the third highest output by a player in NBA Finals history. For the Cavs to upend GSW, James either needed to score over 40 points, or Love needed to add 25-plus points, and perhaps two other Cavs in double digits. But in the Finals, only James and Love tallied in double figures in scoring, and Love’s was below 20. But we also must give credit to GSW’s defense. In the entire playoffs, the Warriors were not only the best offensive team. They were also No. 1 in defense with an average points allowed of 100.5 PPG. Green and Iguodala are excellent role players and the perfect compliment to the scoring prowess of Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson.
The Cavs badly missed another scorer like Kyrie Irving, who normed 29.4 PPG for them last season. While James remains the best player in the world today, he needs a better supporting cast to win a fourth NBA championship ring. But his eight straight Finals appearances are spectacular to say the least. James can opt out of his contract and it’s still uncertain whether he would stick with Cleveland. Obviously, James wants to annex another championship without having to do it all by himself.
The Philippines hosts the FIBA 3X3 World Cup at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. 3X3 basketball is gaining popularity every year and many nations are taking the sport seriously. It has a different set of rules from 5X5 basketball but it’s just as exciting. The Philippines ranks 19th from among 20 participating teams in the Men’s division, with Serbia, Slovenia and Russia as the top seeded countries. In the Women’s division, the Philippines ranks last in the 20-nation tournament, with China, Andorra and Hungary as top three. Team Philippines is represented by pro standouts Stanley Pringle, RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Christian Standhandinger, and coached by Ronnie Magsanoc. The Filipinos wowed the home crowd with a 15-7 triumph over No.6 ranked Brazil. Balanced offense helped them snatch the huge upset as Pringle, Pogoy and Rosario scored four points each, while Standhardinger added three. But on the same day, the locals bowed to No. 11 Mongolia, 17-21. In the women’s group, the Philippine squad fought valiantly but fell short against No. 4 Netherlands and No. 11 Germany. 3X3 basketball suits the Pinoys’ style and I expect for us to do well in the coming years.