It seems that the Air 21 Express’ surge from the Commissioner’s Cup has continued on to the Governor’s Cup.

Taking advantage of a shorthanded Rain or Shine team that played without Jervy Cruz, JR Quinahan and Coach Yeng Guiao, the Express used their advantage inside to dominate the Painters, 103-96.

Without Quinahan and Cruz, Coach Caloy was hard pressed to find a way to contain the Express’ size inside as Coach Franz smartly went to Taulava and Sutton inside early and often, with the duo scoring 43 percent of Air 21’s total points and number of shots, finishing with 25 and 19 points respectively.

Rain or Shine’s inability to cover the paint is clearest when we look at the rebounding numbers. The Express hauled down a total of 54 rebounds compared to Rain or Shine’s 36, including an 18-11 offensive rebounding differential that helped lead to 13 second chance points for the Express.

Air 21 dominated the paint in this one. (Photo Credit: Paolo Papa, Sports 5)

Just how much did Air 21’s inside presence affect the other facets of their game? Let’s take a look at our keys to the game:

Control the Paint

Obviously, the Painters were unable to get a foothold inside the paint, with Coach Caloy forced to throw Almazan and Rodriguez against Air 21’s frontlne due to Belga being in foul trouble. Taulava (5) and Sutton (3) were able to repeatedly get offensive rebounds that killed any momentum Rain or Shine wanted to build in this game. Bench players Ramos and Camson also got into the action, grabbing five offensive boards between them, with Camson scoring all of his six points off putbacks.

Stop the Break

Looking at the numbers, both teams were able to get out on transition (10 points on 10 attempts for Air 21, 19 points on 15 attempts for Rain or Shine). However, the Express didn’t really need to push the break in this one, choosing instead to rely on their inside game to facilitate their offense. With the Rain or Shine defense pre-occupied with containing the threats inside, the Express patiently played inside-outside basketball, kicking the ball out and moving it around, leading to a crazy 12/25 or 48 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Of course, teams don’t shoot like this all the time and it’s a better defensive play anyway to contain the paint vs. locking up the three, but Rain or Shine just gave up too many good, wide open looks from beyond the arc in this one.

This shot probably went in. (Photo Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports 5)

Key Match-Up

Jeff Chan vs. Joseph Yeo

Yeo put together quite a stat like, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists (with five turnovers) on 50 percent shooting from the field. It wasn’t all on Chan as he actually didn’t spend a lot of time guarding the Ninja, but rather on the entire team who were just playing out of sync defensively in this one.

Other Interesting Observations

  • Coach Caloy was clearly looking for answers in this one. He even put in an injured Chris Tiu for five minutes just to see if he could have done anything.
  • I understand that the team was shorthanded coming into this one, but I really didn’t feel like Jonathan Uyloan deserved more minutes than TY Tang and Alex Nuyles. Not hating on Uyloan here, but the Painters definitely needed the energy that Tang and Nuyles could’ve brought into the game. Was this rotation predetermined by Coach Yeng? Let’s see what happens in the next game.
  • Rain or Shine had a big advantage in terms of charity attempts (34-18). However, the Painters made only 56 percent of them, “led” by Ryan Arana’s 3 of 10 clip from the line.

3/10?? (Photo Credit: Paolo Papa, Sports 5)