The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers rallied once more from a 17-point lead in the third quarter reminiscent of their series-clinching win against TNT in Game 4 of the Finals last conference. This time, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters were on the losing end of the furious rally by the Mixers led by their second unit that was capped of by none other than “Big Game” James Yap. Yap drilled the go-ahead three-pointer with less than a minute to go in the game and followed it up with a difficult jumper from a hand-off to distance themselves comfortably from the Elasto Painters.
However, because of a bad foul by PJ Simon and his split from the line on the other end, it gave ROS a chance to tie the game (a three) and send the game to overtime with three seconds to go. This was where a controversial non-call happened when Paul Lee tried to fish for a foul against Marc Pingris. Up until now, people are still debating whether a foul should’ve been called or not (you be the judge).
Story of the Game: Tale of Two Halves
Controversy aside, the Mixers played a real solid second half that turned the game around in their favor. The second half looked totally like a different ball game compared to the 1st half wherein the Elasto Painters completely dominated the Mixers. Mark Barroca kept the Mixers in the game and went toe-to-toe with Paul Lee in the first half but the Mixers had a really difficult time running their “triangle” against the solid defense of Rain or Shine.
But come the second half, Coach Tim switched to their “secondary” offense of pounding the ball inside every possession. It worked wonders for the Mixers as they were able to get their points and together with their improved defense (compared to the first half) and solid play of their second unit (Maliksi, Sangalang, Melton, Reavis), they were able to erase a huge deficit and made a game out of it.
Although the Mixers were able to steal the W, they can’t afford to start out flat again in Game 2 against the Elasto Painters who’ll be looking to bounce back from a very tough loss. Let’s now take a look at some things the Mixers need to do for Game 2 of the Finals.
Keys to the Game
LESS TURNOVERS, LESS PROBLEMS
The Mixers need to take better care of the ball as Rain or shine is a very effective team in converting their opponent’s turnovers into points just like what they did in Game 1. Looking at the numbers:
Although the Mixers committed far less turnovers compared to the Elasto Painters, ROS still had the edge in turnover points which speaks volumes to their ability to convert turnovers into points. Because of this, the Mixers must be able to avoid making unnecessary turnovers for them to have a better chance of winning Game two.
SHARE THE LOAD
When the offense isn’t concentrated on one guy alone, usually good things happen for a team and this is what happened with the Mixers in Game 1. Points were scattered for the Mixers as seven players scored at least 10 points in this game lead by PJ Simon with 18 points and James Yap and Mark Pingris with 14 points a piece. Leading their second unit was Mark Barroca (11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) and Allein Maliksi (10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal). They were able to move the ball around pretty well (17 assists) compared to Rain or Shine (15 assists, 9 below their average) who mostly relied on either Arizona Reid or Paul Lee the entire game. In Game 2, the Mixers must continue sharing the load on offense to keep the Elasto Painters’ defense working and guessing.
Key Match-up: Marqus Blakely vs. Arizona Reid
Because of foul trouble, Marqus Blakely was limited to only 13 points (37.5 percent eFG) and 14 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. His counterpart on the other hand, Arizona Reid led his team with 35 points (44.4 percent eFG) and 12 rebounds. Clearly, Reid was the more aggressive one in this game resulting in 17 free throw attempts for the Rain or Shine reinforcement compared to Blakely’s 8 free throw attempts that was largely due to his foul trouble and the swarming defense of ROS on him as well. Come Game 2, the “Black Sakuragi” must find away to avoid those fouls and adjust to the calls of the referee for him to be able to contribute more for the team which in turn would make things easier for the locals of Mixers.
From the looks of Game One, this will be a very tough series for both teams from here on out.So I expect another close one in Game 2 with the game being decided on the last few possessions of the game. I just hope that this time, it won’t be marred by controversy anymore.
I got the Mixers winning again by three points or less racing to a 2-0 lead in the series.