After all of the last-minute complications of the team standings, we finally have a playoffs cast. It’s the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters who proved worth of challenging the San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals.
After a long journey to the playoffs, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters get first dibs in trying to deny SMB of another Philippine Cup championship.
Let’s go ahead and dive into some burning questions on what’s set to be a fiery matchup.
HOW DO YOU STOP/LIMIT/CONTAIN/SLOW DOWN JUNE MAR FAJARDO?
When facing San Miguel, this should always be the first question you ask yourself. How the hell do you prevent the three-time MVP from wrecking havoc and getting his walk-in-the-park double-double?
Seriously. This has been the biggest question in the league since 2012. And to this day, it hasn’t been answered. Not completely, at least.
San Miguel is obviously much more than June Mar. But he remains the one guy who opens up a world of opportunities for them. SMB’s offense flows out of teams having to worry about a June Mar down low.
Defeating SMB is like trying to get out of a mystery room. And June Mar is the initial challenge.
IS RAIN OR SHINE REALLY BACK ON TRACK?
Rain or Shine defeated the Blackwater Elite in a playoff to enter the quarterfinals. They did so convincingly. But a few games before that, they actually had a chance to bag the twice-to-beat advantage that Alaska got.
ROS had a shot at the second seed. However, they came falling down, losing four in a row. They did bounce back strong, getting that 103-80 win over Blackwater. But now, they need to make sure everything is back in order. They should understand what they’re going up against.
We know Rain or Shine is a good team. But towards the latter part of the elimination round, they gave us reason to doubt that thought. Here’s a chance for them to redeem themselves.
CAN THE BEERMEN KEEP IT TOGETHER?
There’s something about the San Miguel Beermen and the playoffs. Several times in the recent past, they played excellently, topped the elimination round, only to falter somewhere in the playoffs.
I don’t know what it is. Maybe complacency? Cracking under pressure? Whatever it is, it has prevented them from convincing people that they are a dynasty in this era. That tendency has left room for doubt in the hearts of their fans.
Going up against a dangerous Rain or Shine squad, San Miguel cannot afford to put their guards down for a second. Think about what ROS had to go through just to get here. They’ll capitalize on any opportunity SMB gives them.
The Elasto Painters may be at eight seed right now, but we all know they can very well perform as a number one team.
WHO CAN PRODUCE OFF THE BENCH?
The San Miguel Beermen has the most offensively loaded starting unit in the PBA. There shouldn’t be any debate. There’s three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo. Former MVP Arwind Santos. Big-shot maker Alex Cabagnot. Money-from-three Marcio Lassiter. Put in defensive specialist Chris Ross in the mix and you’ve pretty much laid down SMB’s winning formula.
The Beermen are heavily reliant on their starting five. Almost 90% of their production comes from these guys. And while it did get them 10 wins in 11 games, they can’t expect things to come as easy in the playoffs.
San Miguel will need their bench’s participation to be much more than just taking Cabagnot arrows and falling down to the floor. They may need RR Garcia to serve as a magic bunot. They may need the grit and antics of Ronald Tubid. They will probably require the reliable back-up services of Yancy de Ocampo.
And for these guys, when their names are called, they should be ready to produce.
FORTUNE FAVORS WHOM?
Let’s be real about this. Aside from that one loss to Phoenix, San Miguel has been very solid this conference. They have been a great team for the past few years but they look even better right now.
They’ve found more ways to utilize June Mar. Alex, Marcio and Arwind are hitting their shots. Chris is doing his thing. And the bench? They’re having a lot of fun – even on the sidelines.
Bar any injury or misfortune, I just don’t see any team stopping SMB from bringing home the Jun Bernardino trophy.
Source: SLAM Philippines