PBA fans know Peter June Simon as a potent scorer. But he doesn’t exactly have the best reputation as a defender.
But against Barangay Ginebra, the combo guard from Makilala, North Cotabato drew a special assignment: stopping superstar guard Mark Caguioa.
And while Simon scored just four points, he hounded Caguioa to the worst game of the conference. The Ginebra main man was limited to only three points, all of which came on free throws as he missed all 12 of his field goal attempts.
Simon’s sacrifice anchored B-MEG’s defensive mindset all game long as the Llamados drubbed the Gin Kings, 82-70, for their ninth win in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“You’re not a smart coach if you don’t figure out a way how to stop Mark Caguioa,” B-MEG coach Tim Cone said after the game. “You can’t play Caguioa without making him a priority.
“We decided to match up PJ on Mark and PJ worked hard, sacrificed his offense to defend Caguioa.”
It was the second time this conference that Caguioa didn’t finish in double-figures in scoring. He was held to only eight points in the Gin Kings’ first game against the Llamados.
Simon, however, said he wasn’t alone in taking Caguioa’s rhythm out of the game.
“Tinutulungan naman ako ng mga teammates ko. We worked extra hard defending the pick-and-roll, kasi ganun ginagawa ng Ginebra. Kaya ang ginagawa namin, kapag may pick and roll, we were trapping Mark,” he said.
But the Llamados didn’t practice those defensive schemes in practice, according to Cone.
“We didn’t practice it yesterday. We rested our bodies after a tiring game against Meralco. But we spent time viewing the tapes and preparing our defensive mindset against Ginebra.”
It was therefore up to Simon and the rest of the team to apply that in the game, which they did.
Cone sees Simon as more than a one-dimensional player, but a player who can work both ends of the floor.
“PJ can be an excellent defender if he wants to,” Cone told InterAKTV. “Of course, it’s difficult to do that every game.”
Simon attributed his improvement on defense to his coach.
“He’s a defensive-minded coach. Akala nung iba triangle offense lang talaga ang focus ni Coach Tim, but he always emphasize players to play defense,” said Simon.
“Sabi niya sa akin, pwede kaming magsabay ni James (Yap) as long as we play defense. Dati, reliever ako ni James and ang purpose ko is to provide scoring coming off the bench.”
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