Three more wins until another championship. Three more wins until a Grand Slam. The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers are three wins away from making history but one team is also out there to make their own, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Lead by their fiery Coach, Yeng Guiao, the Elasto Painters will be a huge road block for Coach Tim Cone and the rest of the Mixers. As this is a sjort 5-game series, getting Game 1 is imperative for both squads.
Let’s now have a look at the things the Mixers have to do in order to get win number one in this series.
Keys to the Game
CONTROL THE PACE
Rain or Shine is a team that likes to run. As a matter of fact, this season, most of their point production comes from the break. In the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup alone, 70 percent of their points have come from running the fast break. This trend continued here in the Governor’s Cup as they led the league in terms of pace (93.9) and offensive rating (109.2).
Although the Mixers can be a good team when they run (as we have seen in some games this season), they can’t afford to fall into the trap of Rain or Shine and run with them. The Mixers absolutely have no chance in beating the Elasto Painters in this game if it will be a fast-paced high-scoring ball game. Because of this, the Mixers must be able to control the pace (i.e. slow down the game) and run their sets which can in turn lessen the offensive opportunities of Rain or Shine on the break.
MAKE YOUR FREE THROWS
San Mig is a very effective team in fishing for fouls and getting to the foul line. In the eliminations of the Governor’s Cup, they were second in the league in terms of free throw rate at 24.4 percent. However, the problem lies in putting the ball in the basket as the Mixers are the 2nd worst free throw shooting team in the league today making only 63.4 percent of their shots from the line.
In this series, they have to be sharp at the free throw line as they will be facing a very physical squad in Rain or Shine. Marqus Blakely, Marc Pingris, and the rest of San Mig’s big men must be ready to hit their free throws as they’ll be hit a lot in this series by Rain or Shine’s enforcers lead by Beau Belga.
DEFEND ROS’ GUNNERS
Another weapon that Rain or Shine can use against the Mixers is their three-point shooting. In the eliminations, they were second to TNT in terms of three-point shot attempts. It is only logical that Rain or Shine’s three-point attempts are this high because they have the personnel to sink the ball from deep: Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Ryan Arana, their import AZ Reid, and even Beau Belga can hit that three-point shot. The Mixers’ defense must be able to defend the perimeter very well in this game and in this series for them to have a better chance in beating the Elasto Painters.
Key Match-up: Mark Barroca vs. Paul Lee
Arguably two of the best point guards in the league are Mark Barroca and Paul Lee. Although being assigned different roles by their respective Coaches, Mark Barroca coming off the bench and Paul Lee starting, come crunch time and with the game on the line, expect both men to have the ball and run things for their team. Here in Game 1, who will be able to make the key plays for their team? Will Paul Lee be able to secure the win for the Elasto Painters or will Mark Barroca provide the Mixers with his endgame heroics once more to move San Mig one step closer to another title?