I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who might be thinking this, but if ever there are some of you out there that think that Rain or Shine’s semifinal matchup against Alaska will be a walk in the park…
No. These Aces are clearly not the same ones that ROS murdered in the elimination round. In fact, after absorbing that 51 point beating, the Aces have rattled off four straight wins, all of which were anchored by a defense that has not allowed more than 89.5 points per 100 in the current streak. Perhaps one hot team deserves another right? The Elasto Painters enter the Final Four with a league leading six-game win streak fuelled by a turnover producing, fast paced attack that has ROS peaking at just the right time.
With that, let’s look at our keys to the game / series.
One of the worst things that can happen to a team is to give up live-ball turnovers.
According to the NBA’s Hangtime blog, a live-ball turnover is a turnover that remains in play. This usually comes in the form of lost dribbles or intercepted passes. These kinds of turnovers are infinitely more dangerous that dead-ball turnovers (when the clock stops after a turnover), because it allows the team that forced the turnover the instant advantage of attacking a team that has not been able to set-up their defense.
Obviously, Rain or Shine absolutely thrives on forcing these kinds of turnovers. In their current six game streak, opponents have averaged 17 turnovers (we cannot estimate the ratio of live and dead TOs, but safe to assume that a bulk of these are live), 20 points off turnovers and 18 fast break points per game. Points off turnovers and fastbreak points actually make up around 35 percent of ROS’ point output in that span of games, clearly making forcing turnovers and getting out on the break pillars of Coach Yeng Guiao’s system.
With Alaska’s offense structured around getting the ball into the paint to start their sets, the Elasto Painters should just continue to do what they have been doing and hound the perimeter and be pesky and aggressive when the ball does find its way inside. The Triangle is a system that relies on patience and for players to constantly read and re-read what the players on the floor are doing and ROS should be able to force their fair share of live-ball turnovers as long as they remain active and just play in your face defense the entire way.
Keep Your Composure
One noticeable change from the Trillo to Compton era is the freedom of Calvin Abueva. Under Coach Alex, Abueva has been “unleashed” to essentially let Abueva be Abueva. He’s been given more freedom to be physical, hijack offensive possessions, crash the boards and gamble for steals. Combined with Gabby Espinas’ physicality, these two will surely try to get into the heads of the ROS players. With volatile personalities on both teams, it would be imperative for ROS to not allow the Aces to distract them with any extracurricular activities.
To Run is to Win
As mentioned earlier, Alaska’s defense has been excellent in their winning streak. While ROS can grind it out with the best of them, it would be much better if they got their points before Alaska is able to set-up their defense. How to do that?
Run after getting rebounds, run even after Alaska scores. Just keep on pushing the ball each and every chance you get.
Basically, Rain or Shine basketball. :)