View from the enemy: Rain or Shine Elasto Painters
After getting on the winning track last weekend, Petron is aiming to get its second straight win against rampaging league-leaders Rain Or Shine as the festivities for the Governors’ Cup resume back to action tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Coming off a 101-95 win against sister team Barangay Ginebra last Sunday, the Blaze Boosters stepped into the winning column with a 1-1 win-loss slate behind the heroics of import Elijah Millsap who ended up with 24 points and nine boards, while locals Marcio Lassiter, Doug Kramer, Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos all making clutch plays down the stretch to stave off any comeback attempts by the Kings.
Facing the Elasto Painters with an impressive 2-0 card so far in the season-ending conference, Gee Abanilla and his soldiers are facing a big challenge as they need to put up a gallant stand against the mighty Yeng Guiao-coached squad bannered by monster import AZ Reid.
Can Petron pull off an upset against a Rain Or Shine squad who just dismantled its first two opponents? What does Petron have to do to be able to pass this acid test against the Elasto Painters? Let us take a look at some keys to winning for the Blaze Boosters in this highly-anticipated match-up.
1. Release The Kraken!
Against Ginebra, June Mar Fajardo struggled big time, scoring only two points in 18 minutes of action. More than that, he became a shooting target on defense by the Kings’ import Dior Lowhorn in the early goings of the game and played poor defense all game long. Is it fatigue from the FIBA-Asia stint? Is his confidence down after a below par showing in the continental joust? He was impressive against Meralco when he wounded up with a double-double performance. The Kraken needs to wake up from his struggles and man up against a formidable Rain Or Shine front line that boasts Beau Belga, JR Quiñahan and AZ Reid. Fajardo needs to toughen up and play with a lot of spunk against these big men who will do anything to bully him in the paint. If he won’t show up in tonight’s game, Petron will be in a huge disadvantage as Doug Kramer and Arwind Santos can only do so much going up against a very physical Elasto Painters’ front line.
2. Body Up AZ Reid
The Governors’ Cup Best Import awardee from two seasons ago is once again wreaking havoc in the league, averaging 27.5 points, 18.5 rebounds and five assists in Rain Or Shine’s first two wins. Can Petron stop him? Highly improbable, but it is certainly doable. The Blaze Boosters need to put an agile body on Reid to limit his touches and force him to take shots that are out of his comfort zone. It’s easier said than done but if Petron will put a premium on team defense in this game, AZ Reid can be limited. Doug Kramer’s defense and ability to keep in step against imports as shown last Sunday as he went toe-to-toe against Dior Lowhorn will be huge for Petron tonight.
3. Play The Passing Lanes, Disrupt ROS’ Ball Movement
It is a very scary thought that even with AZ Reid using up most of Rain Or Shine’s possessions, they still lead the conference in assists with 21 dimes a game. The Elasto Painters are one hell of a team when it comes to ball movement and finding the open man. Petron needs to work double hard on defense and play the passing lanes well to force Rain Or Shine to commit turn overs. A positive note for the Blaze Boosters is that they are second in the league in steals with 10 a game behind Talk N Text (13 steals/game).
4. Attack of the Wingmen
Reinforcement Elijah Millsap along with Marcio Lassiter played huge roles in Petron’s conquest against Ginebra last Sunday. They are going up against a Rain Or Shine team that has probably some of the best wing defenders in the league today led by Gabe Norwood, Jireh Ibanes, Ryan Araña and Ronnie Matias. One thing is for sure, Millsap and Lassiter will be two marked men in tonight’s game. Petron’s rotation of wingmen need to play better and other forwards in the person of Ronald Tubid and Chris Lutz must step up and help Millsap and Lassiter dismantle ROS’ defense. Lutz has been struggling so far in this conference and his explosion for this game will be a huge boost not only for his confidence but for the whole team as well as a new weapon in the offensive end will be added.
June Mar Fajardo versus The Extra Rice Inc. – Needless to say, June Mar Fajardo must play his A-game for Petron to win against the defending champions. The last time these two teams faced each other in the Commissioner’s Cup, Fajardo stepped up big time and led an import-less Petron team to a win. It will be a tough assignment for the Blaze Boosters if their prized rookie center will struggle once more as it is almost sure that Rain Or Shine will take advantage on this with AZ Reid leading the way.
Petron is going to win this one but not by a huge margin. It is gonna be a close game and might go down the wire but their willingness to play together and sacrifice for the team will be a huge key in defeating a well-oiled machine like Rain Or Shine.