Series Preview: Semifinals Preview: Rain or Shine vs. Petron
There are two stories in this game, one from each end of the floor.
Coming from a 0/18 performance, Rain or Shine bounced back to shoot 9/32 or 28.1% from beyond the arc in this game, which includes a 4/11 (36.4%) outing from Jeff Chan. With their perimeter shooting finally connecting, it allowed for a more free-flowing Rain or Shine attack, with Arizona Reid having more room to operate and giving the team the chances to move the ball around (11 ROS players saw action, 10 had at least one assist each).
One of the main drivers of the good Rain or Shine offense this game was their defense. Right from the start of the game, the Elasto Painters let their defense dictate the flow of the game. Knowing they had to limit both Fajardo and Millsap, Gabe Norwood and the Extra Rice Inc. tandem delivered for Coach Yeng Guiao tonight. Beau Belga and the returning JR Quinahan did an amazing job limiting Fajardo’s looks and opportunities, constantly fronting him, denying the post pass and playing a patient, but harassing brand of defense when Fajardo did get the ball. This led to the Cebuano rookie finishing with nine points and nine rebounds, but more importantly, he only had nine attempts on the basket and only two offensive rebounds. Prior to this game, Elijah Millsap was looking unstoppable for Petron. Tonight though, Rain or Shine almost exclusively stuck Norwood on him and he responded by playing a level of defense unseen from him since his stint with the national team. For the game, Millsap finished with 17 points on 19% shooting (4/21) from the field. What was particularly impressive about Norwood’s defense tonight was how he was able to stop Millsap on drives and fast break situations. Often times, local players would be overwhelmed by an import that’s heading to the rim at full speed. However, Norwood (who’s obviously not really a “local”), has the athleticism to stay will Millsap on his drives and is just able to bother him enough to make him miss what used to be easy finishes for him in the past.
The Elasto Painters finally broke through after three tries. They still find themselves down 2-1 in this best of five series, but this is the kind of victory that should give them a lot of confidence moving forward. The chances of Coach Yeng and his crew winning three straight is still pretty bleak, but this team is more than capable of tying the series up on Monday.