The 2016 Oppo Commissioner’s Cup is down to its final two teams: Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Alaska Aces. Both teams were had lower seeds during the semifinals but they prevailed over their opponents.
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters have not won a championship since the 2012 Governor’s Cup. They are very hungry for a title.
So, can the Elasto Painters win the Finals? Yes and here are 4 things that they must consistently do to help them win.
1. Extra Rice and More
Rain or Shine probably still has the biggest and heaviest combination of frontcourt players in the league even if JR Quinahan and Beau Belga both lost weight for this season. Their much improved conditioning and fitness have resulted to better scoring numbers for Extra Rice Incorporated.
Belga had his best scoring conference during the Philippine Cup while Quinahan is having his best scoring totals during the current conference. Needless to say, the 2 frontline behemoths of RoS have been playing well this season and their contributions offensively are a welcome (and needed) sight for the Elasto Painters. Heck, even their current import, Henderson-Niles, and Jewel Ponferada have added to their strength and heft in the low-post.
They have more than enough bodies to bother, pester and annoy Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, Rob Dozier and Vic Manuel (when he plays). If Quinahan continues to play well in the finals, then the Elasto Painters will have the advantage upfront.
2. Bench Mob
Rain or Shine does not boast of having the deepest team or the most talented bench in the PBA but they have players who are always ready to play and contribute. Their readiness comes from Coach Yeng’s unpredictability when handing out starting lineups and consistently changing rotations.
Most (if not all) players get a chance to play. Thus, when given a chance, guys like Jericho Cruz, Maverick Ahanmisi and Raymond Almazan have all starred in helping RoS usurp the San Miguel Beermen during the semifinals to reach the finals.
In fact, Cruz actually leads them in scoring during the playoffs while Ahanmisi averages more points than their import, Pierre Henderson-Niles. They are role players who are not expected to contribute a lot since Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan are the ones typically expected to perform. The Elasto Painters are able to parade different combinations that can flummox the Alaska Aces and RoS can easily replace guys who are underperforming because there are others on the bench that can make a positive difference.
To his credit, Coach Yeng does not hesitate to bench players and play others as long as his team is winning.
3. Make Threes
During the eliminations and the playoffs, Rain or Shine steadily placed 2nd in threes made and attempted. They made about one-third of their attempts which is a major part of their offense. In addition, RoS averaged more points than the Alaska Aces and making threes can do that.
The Elasto Painters have solid shooters like Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, Chris Tiu and Maverick Ahanmisi, so the Aces cannot leave them wide open often. Aside from them, defensive stalwarts Gabe Norwood and Jireh Ibanes plus big boys, Belga and Quinahan, are all capable of hitting long jumpers. Therefore, the Painters need to continue taking perimeter shots when they are open and the open shot is within the parameters of their offensive plays.
Even when they miss, RoS is a very good rebounding team (#1 during the playoffs) and they have a slight advantage over the Aces in offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
Moreover, taking threes will keep Alaska’s defense honest. The Aces will scramble to bother shooters which can result into driving lanes that will benefit their backcourt players.
4. Keep Their Cool
Rain or Shine is known to be a very physical and chatty team. They love bumping bodies, taunting and engaging in mind games. They have multiple players (Belga, Cruz, Quinahan, Alamazan, etc.) who thrive in that kind of playing environment and even their coach participates in such things. Sometimes it works in their favor and sometimes it doesn’t.
In any case, expect RoS to continue playing this way against Alaska, especially when facing Calvin Abueva.
The biggest risk for RoS: they cannot lose their concentration and cool if Alaska is able to handle and counter their physical play. RoS players tend to get angry and distracted when other teams match their physicality and toughness. Thus, the supposed advantage of RoS in that department is negated. Also when frustration sets in, technical fouls and/or ejections might occur and the Elasto Painters are typically more prone to be called for those infractions. Therefore, they need to keep their cool and be calm at all costs if they want to win the finals. – By Rolly Mendoza
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