The Painters established a 19-point lead early in the second period courtesy of a ten-point outburst by JR Quinahan capped by a Gabe Norwood three-pointer. The Aces, however, made a counter-run that saw Rain or Shine giving up 17 consecutive points and shooting blanks from the field (mostly from downtown) for a good six minutes. ROS still managed to end the half on top, 47-41, but just like in Game 1, they failed to take care of their lead and sustain the momentum. Alaska murdered them in the third quarter, scoring 35 markers while only allowing 20.
Calvin Abueva and Cyrus Baguio top scored for the Aces with 16 points each, followed by Sonny Thoss and Vic Manuel with 13 apiece. It was Raymond Almazan who tried to carry the Painters with 16 points and nine rebounds, aided by Paul Lee who recorded 14 and seven.
Taking care of the leather and scoring off fastbreaks are supposedly Rain or Shine’s bread-and-butter, but look at how Alaska outplayed them in these categories in Game 5. The Aces’ full-court press, in particular, caused the Painters to lose the ball more than their counterpart. It also gave Alaska more opportunities to run the break. That 23-8 discrepancy in fastbreak points is very alarming, especially for a team like ROS who thrives on runs more than stops.
Ronnie Magsanoc repeatedly mentioned on air that the number of times the Aces are sent to the line is directly proportional to the number of times they will press. Rain or Shine sent Alaska to the charity stripe seven times in the third quarter – the same period where they turned the ball over eight times. The pesky defense of the Aces resulted to several ballhandling and passing errors for ROS, similar to what happened in Game 4. It also took away the Painters’ focus on the defensive end. They took care of the ball better in the final canto but they once again misfired from the field. They just got lucky that the Aces’ easy buckets were also not falling that’s why their deficit did not balloon to double digits.
Lack of effort to rebound
It’s one thing to get outrebounded, and another to not even try. It’s frustrating to watch the Painters just stand there and allow the Aces to grab the ball conveniently (almost leisurely, at times). Rain or Shine has been living off 45 rebounds per game in the last five outings, compared to Alaska’s 57. ROS has no rebounder on the roster who can compete with the likes of Abueva, Thoss, Menk, and Manuel. There are instances, however, when I feel like they could’ve exerted more effort to box out their opponents. They badly needed extra possessions to make up for their turnovers and their outside misses, but Alaska always finds ways to beat them to the leather. When I saw Gabby Espinas wearing his jersey, the first thing that came to mind is that once he returns, ROS will get killed on the glass even more.
Live and die by the three
Ten makes out of 39 triple attempts is not so bad, especially considering that they shot 9-of-31 and 13-of-40 in their Games 2 and 4 wins respectively. As I mentioned in my previous postgame, it’s outside shooting that will bail ROS out in this series. Jonathan Uyloan is being criticized for being trigger-happy from deep in this match, but you can’t blame the guy (or any Elasto Painter who takes threes despite missing repeatedly, for that matter) since Coach Yeng has always told them to take their chances whenever they’re open. I’m just questioning the long heave he took towards the endgame when they still had plenty of time to move the ball around and try to attack the basket.
1. Raymond Almazan has been the most consistent player of Rain or Shine on both ends here in the playoffs. He’s the only player that the Painters can rely on to grab offensive boards and score off putbacks. He’s contributed an average of 13 points, seven boards, and two blocks.
2. Paul Lee is due for a breakout game. It looked like it was going to happen in Game 5 after he scored six points in less than two minutes in the early part. However, he wasn’t able to add to this number until the third frame. Lee also missed a crucial gimme basket in the dying seconds that could have brought them within two. He’s averaging 11 points so far, but a 15- or 20-point game is what the Painters need from him at this point.
3. How about Gabe Norwood’s free throw shooting woes? The freebies that he missed near the two-minute mark when they were only down five hurt a lot. It gave the Aces another opportunity to make it a three-possession ballgame when time was definitely not on the Painters’ side. He’s got a horrible 5-of-18 record from the charity stripe in this series.
The long break will be beneficial for both teams since they’ve been playing at full speed all series-long. Being pressed (pun intended) against the wall has become familiar territory for Rain or Shine. I still believe Coach Yeng has enough tricks and adjustments up his sleeve and that ROS can take this in 7.
Side note: Regarding Calvin Abueva’s non-suspension after getting a flagrant foul penalty two in Game 4 – I personally did not wish for him to get suspended because I want both teams to be on equal footing with their core players intact every game, to really see who will come out stronger and better after this series with no handicap whatsoever. What makes this issue a big deal is the PBA’s inconsistency in sanctioning its players. If a FF2 merits a suspension, then it shouldn’t matter whether it’s the playoffs or the eliminations. From what I understand, it’s the Commissioner who ultimately decides on how to penalize the players, and the subjectiveness of it all is where the problem lies. Make the players and teams accountable for their actions AND be consistent about it.
Featured image courtesy of Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports 5