The Tropang Texters opened the best-of-seven finals series with a convincing win, 99-92. ROS was able to keep the final score within striking distance, but their performance indicates that it may as well have been a blowout. They rotated slowly on defense especially in the second half, gave away too many possessions, and missed a lot of F-R-E-E throws.
TNT had a more balanced scoring with Ranidel de Ocampo leading the pack with 24 points, followed by Ivan Johnson with 23, Jayson Castro with 14, and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser with 10. ROS relied too much on Wayne Chism who produced 34 points and 16 rebounds. The only other Painter who finished in double digits is Paul Lee with 13.
ROS found themselves struggling on their team defense, what with all the mismatches that TNT created. How many times did the Texters successfully get away in the crucial moments of the fourth quarter? The ROS defenders had to sprint at the last minute to close out, but often a little too late. Jayson Castro was a given, but it was also particularly difficult to keep in step with RDO. I think Raymond Almazan is a good match-up for him (Beau Belga was owned) and just needs to make a few adjustments next game.
The Painters gave TNT 15 points off their 17 turnovers – mostly bad passes due to hurried offense or miscommunication among players. They’re battling for a championship trophy and they should be more focused than that. Credit of course to Talk ‘N Text’s stingy defense that ate the shot clock and forced them to make awkward passes.
Aside from improving their defensive rotation and taking care of the ball better, they also need to work on their free throws. 18-for-33 from the charity stripe is just unacceptable. Even the technical freebie awarded after Ivan Johnson controversially bumped Coach Yeng Guiao was a miss. (I heard Johnson was fined PhP150K for that contact. Too much?)
Ganuelas-Rosser is a real deal and is turning out to be an x-factor for TNT in this series. As expected, he was tasked to keep Paul Lee in check. He was all over the floor, playing solid defense on one end while also doing damage offensively. It’s such a treat to watch him and Kevin Alas move seamlessly as if they’ve been in the league for a long time.
Needless to say, Game 2 is a must-win for Rain or Shine. More than shifting the momentum on their side, it’s important to gain confidence and be assured that they do have the tools to defeat TNT despite their record. I’m expecting them to employ their physical and gritty defense, which was not felt as much in Game 1, to contain the offensive weapons of the Texters. Coach Yeng will also definitely tweak his lineup to minimize the mismatches. Hopefully Jon Uyloan, who sustained a shoulder injury in this game, will not be sidelined the rest of the way.