After a foul-plagued Game 1, Rain or Shine’s burly import found out that June Mar Fajardo isn’t as ‘soft’ as Greg Slaughter.
In one sequence during the first half, Fajardo posted up Niles and barreled his way to the basket with a sweet up-and-under move in a combination of brute strength and good skills set and footwork.
The reigning back-to-back MVP had his way finishing with 23 points on 11-of-19 shooting and added 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in a dominant performance that impressed the hulking Rain or Shine import.
“He’s way better. He’s not soft,” said Niles comparing the league’s two giants.
But he was quick to add that he could have canceled out Fajardo if only he stayed out of foul trouble.
“I just got in foul trouble. I should’ve played a lot better but it was their game plan to get me into foul trouble and it worked. They got me in foul trouble (really) quick,” Nile said.
Niles was able to slow down Slaughter, who averaged 18.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and only 1.5 turnovers per game in the elimination round, in the quarterfinals. Slaughter’s numbers dipped to just 12 points and 7 rebounds while his turnovers rose to 3 per game against the Rain or Shine’s wide-bodied import.
But against Fajardo, Niles was helpless thanks to 3 quick fouls he got in the opening half.
While Fajardo got away with the better numbers, Niles came through in the crucial moments to have the last laugh in the end.
Niles pumped in 9 of his 13 points in the fourth canto where Rain or Shine completed their comeback from 18 points down. He added 9 boards, 1 assist and 2 steals for good measure despite being limited to just 22 minutes.
Niles, however, was far from satisfied inspite of getting the win as he vowed to come out better defensively in Game 2.
“I’ll play straight up defense and not get myself into foul trouble. I know how to adjust. I know what to do in our next game and let’s just see how it will turn out,” Niles said. – By Alder Almo
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo