This matchup has brewed an interesting rivalry that will soon give Manila Clasico a run for its money (or is that going too far? Haha). The two franchises fought in the Finals thrice in the last two years, with the Hotshots getting two out of the three trophies. It’s always a treat to watch coaches Yeng Guiao and Tim Cone demonstrate their brilliance on the sidelines as they attempt to outsmart and outstrategize each other.
The Elasto Painters were slow to adjust to the Hotshots’ halfcourt defense, taking four long minutes before they were able to connect from the field. It was a toe-to-toe contest until late in the second period when ROS started pulling away. Guiao’s squad was able to build a double-digit lead in the final frame, but in true Purefoods fashion, the Hotshots came within striking distance courtesy of clutch baskets from Alex Mallari and Joe Devance and defensive stops by Justin Melton. Rain or Shine, however, rallied behind Gabe Norwood, TY Tang, and Jonathan Uyloan in crunch time and refused to give away the victory.
Rain or Shine
BATTLE OF THE BOARDS
Finally, Rain or Shine posted some decent rebounding numbers. They were still outrebounded, 53-54, but I’m happy with the 20 offensive boards and 21 second chance points they produced, knowing that they only averaged 10.6 and 9 respectively coming into this game (WORST in the league). Some highlight-worthy second opportunity baskets are the buzzer beaters of Raymond Almazan and Norwood to end the second and third quarters, and Tang’s layup off his own miss to put the Purefoods run to a halt in the dying minutes.
I can’t emphasize enough that crashing the boards is something that ROS needs to improve on. Giving up too many extra possessions and scoring chances has been hurting them a lot this season. Come on Almazan, I know you can do better than averaging eight rebounds per game.
SPEED AND ACCURACY TEST
Everytime ROS steps on the gas, Purefoods breaks their momentum and forces them to decelerate. The Hotshots’ transition defense especially in the early goings of the match was well-executed, stopping Rain or Shine’s attempts to run the break and compelling them to resort to outside shots. These are the moments when Jeff Chan’s sniping are sorely missed, but hey, the Painters still have several weapons who could fire those three-balls and jumpers. Also, they moved the leather around with so much ease and confidence in their teammates. They were less effective from the field than usual (40.3 eFG%) but the way they patiently looked for the open man amidst the stingy defense of Purefoods was still impressive.
I’m one of those people who went, “why let go of Alex Nuyles and Larry Rodriguez instead of Tang/Uyloan/Teng?” Please accept my sincerest apologies, TY and Jon. (Hi Jeric, I hope you’ll prove me wrong too.) As mentioned, Tang and Uyloan were instrumental in this win especially down the stretch when Purefoods was threatening to come back. Thank God, Tang was not seriously hurt after his nasty fall early in the fourth period. He finished with 11 points and four rebounds, while Uyloan dropped nine points (including a dagger triple), five rebounds, four assists, and six steals. Purefoods’ smaller and faster second unit, led by Melton and Mark Barroca, played extended minutes in an attempt to keep in pace with ROS. The Elasto Painters’ bench prevailed and scored more buckets, 44-34.
Two more crucial games to go.
Featured image courtesy of Nuki Sabio, Rappler