Protect the ball better and stay consistent on the defensive end.
Those are the key factors that Alaska needs to accomplish if it intends to have better chances against Rain or Shine in Game 3 of their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals showdown on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces paid a stiff price in a 97-105 loss in the series opener last Friday when Elasto Painters turned their 14 costly errors into 27 points, most of them in transition attacks.
Two days later, Alaska held its turnovers down to 14, four less than its counterpart, but allowed Rain or Shine to sizzle from the field, making 39 of its 70 attempts for an impressive 56 percent shooting clip on the way to a 105-103 victory and a 2-0 series lead.
Veteran guard RJ Jazul, who’s been filling in the role left by injured starting playmaker JVee Casio, became one of the bright spots for Aces in their latest setback, tallying a game-high 24, spiked by five triples.
But the former Letran standout hardly had any reason to cheer, noting the Aces cannot afford to give the Painters plenty of opportunities that they could pounce on.
“Marami kaming lapses sa depensa tapos ang galing ng Rain or Shine masyado. Kaunting pagkakamali mo lang sa kanila, may open shots na sila, either sa labas o sa loob,” said the 5-foot-11 Jazul, 30, at the end of the Aces’ practice on Tuesday at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.
“Dapat kaunti lang ang lapses namin. Kung hindi kayang kontian, dapat wala. Tulad nu’ng Game 1, lahat ng turnovers namin, na-convert nila. Itong second game, taas ng field goal pag open shots. Sobrang galing ng execution nila. Kahit wala gaanong plays, magaling sila sa defense,” he added.
Jazul also stressed the he and the rest of the Aces backcourt men should double their effort in terms of trying to slow down their healthier Elasto Painters rivals, led by high-scoring guard Paul Lee.
“Dapat pick-up-in namin from backcourt tapos walang masyadong bwelo. Pero kahit anong gawin mo, makaka-score pa rin siya,” he said of the former University of the East star who’s been averaging 18.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals in the finals.
“Isa siya sa mga players na hindi mo talaga mai-stop. Kailangan mo lang i-contain. Less touches, at ‘yung bola wala dapat masyado sa kanya. Kaso ganu’n ang play nila. We will do our best to contain him.”
Despite his Game 2 explosion, Jazul admitted he doesn’t need to score that much since his fellow Aces are usually capable of providing ample offensive lift.
“‘Yung points, kahit sino naman pwede mag-share sa amin. Nagkataon lang na open ako, ako nabibigyan ng teammates ko ng bola. Kahit sino naman makaka-score pag ganu’n,” he said, adding they need to have a better defensive effort collectively.
“Ang kailangan talaga dumepensa. Challenging talaga ang defense namin lalo sa guards. Tapos panay plays nila pick-and-roll, parang puro ball screens so kailangan i-contain namin sila ng maigi,” Jazul concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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