Rain or Shine rookie Maverick Ahanmisi was sent crashing back to earth by Alaska’s smothering defense on Sunday, underscoring the Elasto Painters’ offensive struggles in a 78-86 setback in Game 5 of their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals series at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-2 Ahanmisi got the full brunt of the Aces’ stymieing defense all game long, limiting him to a solitary point while missing all of his four attempts in 22 minutes of play, a far cry from his personal-best of 30 markers in their 99-111 setback in Game 4 last Friday.
But the Fil-Nigerian guard refused to sulk on his letdown, saying he and the rest of the Painters collectively groped for form against the resilient Aces, who cut their series deficit to 2-3 while forcing a Game 6 on Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
“We made some constant mistakes in the last part of the game. We beat ourselves again,” lamented Ahanmisi, who also accounted for two of Rain or Shine’s 21 turnovers which Alaska translated to 14 points.
“Simple mistakes did us in again. There are constant mistakes and that’s what have been killing us.”
The 24-year old Ahanmisi added the Painters have also shied away from putting premium on speed and transition attack, something that they ultimately sacrificed when they tried to focus their offense more on post plays.
“We’re just trying to take advantage on mismatches and we didn’t do that too well tonight,” he admitted. “I think that kind of messed us up because we’re not thinking smart for ourselves. We’re looking too much at playing in the past and we weren’t really playing team basketball. We focused on mismatches but we’re not driving and playing our game normally.”
The third overall pick in last year’s rookie draft, Ahanmisi also rued the way they have repeatedly sent the Aces to the free throw line, underlined by a glaring discrepancy—Alaska made 23 of its 27 attempts while Rain or Shine only had eight from 11 tries.
“In the fourth quarter, we keep sending them to the free throw line. There’s nothing we can do if we let them make baskets from the free throw area. That’s basically it,” he said.
But Ahanmisi is still frank enough to admit what they need to do in order to finally clinch what seems to be an elusive second pro league title in franchise history.
“We just have to come out and play hard like they way they (Aces) have been playing the past few games,” he said. “This one obviously hurts but we just gotta keep our heads up.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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