The Purefoods Star Hotshots (5-3) are slowly gaining momentum as the playoffs is already fast-approaching. Currently on a 4-game winning streak (NLEX, BWE, MER, and KIA), the Hotshots look to extend their winning run as they go up against an equally hot team (and arguably their biggest test in this stretch), the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (6-2). Being in 2 out of 3 Finals last season, both teams are already quite familiar with each other. Once again, it will be offense versus defense in this one.
Offense is the name of the game for Coach Yeng Guiao and the Elasto Painters as they are 3rd in the league when it comes to offense (99.9 ORTG). This conference, Rain or Shine’s been successful in employing their run and gun attack (93.4 Pace, tied at 1st with TNT) and they have been shooting the ball really well (51.8% TS, 4th and 48.3% eFG, 3rd). Their nice shooting percentage can be attributed to the fact that this team moves the ball really well (58.4% AST, 4th). What’s more impressive is that the Elasto Painters have been able to take good care of the ball, ranking 3rd-best in terms of turnovers at only 13.4%.
On the other hand for Coach Tim Cone and the Star Hotshots, it’s still defense that wins them games. In their 5 wins this conference, they have been able to limit their opponents to below 90 points. In their last game against KIA, although they exploded for 37 points in the 4th quarter, those points came from a furious defensive stand for Purefoods. As they go up against Rain or Shine in this game, their priority must be defense and they can’t allow the Elasto Painters to dictate the pace as it can get really ugly quick if that happens.
One player that they have to keep in check is Paul Lee. He’s been very effective for Rain or Shine and he’s one of the main reasons why they are currently 3rd at 6-2. For players playing at least 20 minutes per game, he’s the most efficient player with a PER of 32.2. He’s also been on target with his shooting ranking 2nd in the league in both true shooting percentage (64.3%) and effective field goal percentage (61.9). Mark Barroca, Justin Melton, Alex Mallari and the rest of Purefoods’ guards must not let Paul Lee get in the groove for them to have a chance of winning this one against Rain or Shine.
It will be hard to predict who’s gonna win in this one as both teams are evenly matched from the Head Coach all the way to the last person on the bench. However, as the Elasto Painters are still missing some players, I think the Hotshots will have the edge in this match-up. Fearless forecast: Purefoods win by +/- 5 points.
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TIME: 5:15 PM
ARENA: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM
Featured Image Credit: Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports 5 (Edit: MI.NI)