Two teams with identical 1-3 standings duke it out for a better chance of making it into this season’s Governor’s Cup playoffs.
Right now, Rain or Shine, Barako Bull, Globalport and Meralco make up the bottom teams in the conference with the difference between making the playoffs and elimination looking like it’s going to come down to one or two games down the stretch. With that in mind, the winner of this game between the Elasto Painters and the Energy Cola presents a perfect chance for both teams to break away from the league bottom feeders.
Both on paper and based on historical performances, Rain or Shine should be the favored team heading into this one, but it’s not going to be a cake-walk as this conference’s Barako Bull team is far from the team that we are used to seeing.
Key to the Game
Disrupt the Motion
Coach Siot Tanquingcen has installed a motion offense for the Energy Cola. It hasn’t really worked well in their first three games, but they might’ve unlocked something in their last game against SMB by giving Pennisi significant playing time, thereby opening up the offense. Pennisi may have exploded for 20 points (6 of 10 from beyond the arc), in their last game, but it’s clear that the team’s motion offense revolves around Eric Wise.
Their offense usually starts with the point guard entering the ball to Wise on the elbow or post. This starts a series of screens and cuts from the other four players on the court and what Wise will do will depend on how the defense reacts. If the defense gets caught in a screen or trails too much, then Wise will be able to pass the ball out for an open trey or midrange jumper. If not, then Wise will either pass the ball out to the point guard for a reset or attack the defense by himself. This offense has led to a balanced Barako scoring output, with Wise (28.7), Fortuna (10.7), Pennisi (10.7) and Buenafe (10.0) all averaging double digit scoring. Wise as a facilitator is also evident here as he averages 3.7 assists, second only to Fortuna’s 4.5 dimes per game within the team.
To stop this, Rain or Shine simply has to stop Barako’s facilitators.
Jeric Fortuna: Coach Siot has wisely given time and trust to the rookie, living with his mistakes in hopes of molding him to be one of more promising PBA point guards. The Elasto Painters must not forget that he is still a rookie and should pressure him before he is able to setup their offense. Coach Yeng should rotate Norwood, Tiu and Tang on Fortuna to make sure that he gets different looks and that the pressure never lets up.
Eric Wise: Wise’s ability to attack and facilitate from the elbow is also a fulcrum of Barako’s attack. He’s effective inside, but is a bit undersized, so Belga and Reid should start their work on defense early by pushing Wise out as far as possible before he gets the pass.
Somebody other than Reid, Lee and Chan has to step up in terms of scoring in this one. Barako will obviously focus on stopping Reid and it seems that Lee and Chan’s scoring isn’t enough to propel Rain or Shine into the win column. The team needs that 3rd local scorer to bring it all together for them. I’m looking at either Ryan Arana or Beau Belga to break out of their slumps on Saturday.
This game will be a struggle for both teams, but I see the Elasto Painters doing just enough on defense to pull out with a win on Saturday.