Let's get physical: Do-or-die Saturday for 4 PBA teams
Both the Alaska-San Mig and Meralco-Rain or Shine series have been grueling, nip-and-tuck, and highly physical. It seems physicality has been redefined in both tussles, as bodies continue to slam to the floor and benches clear to partake in pushing, shoving, and eventually hurting each other.
Heading into their respective Game 3s, a total of 197 fouls have been whistled, and this does not include the non-calls coaches have complained of.
Deadlocks shall be broken and once the dust clears, only two teams shall make it to the next round.
Meralco-Rain or Shine: Accuracy
Meralco Bolts head coach Ryan Gregorio said after Game 1 on Monday that the accuracy of Gary David is vital in the quarterfinals stage.
"He realizes he has to improve his accuracy. We cannot win games if we fire blanks," quipped Gregorio of his main man's hot hands.
Gary David entered the playoffs shooting a measly 22.5% from beyond the arc, but fired 4 of 8 from long range in Game 1.
But when you talk about defense, Rain or Shine was more accurate in Game 2. The Elasto Painters just had more intensity on D, playing relentlessly and keeping a man in front of the Bolts.
They clogged the passing lanes and played toe-to-toe, which is why Meralco managed to score only 66 points through three quarters before trying to stage a miracle in the 4th. They forced 24 turnovers from the Bolts, who shot just 38% all game long.
Gary David? Two of 10 from 3-point range. Darnell Jackson? Seven of 23 total field goals.
This is why the Bolts need Jared Dillinger badly for Game 3, because of his ability to penetrate and breakdown defenses with his size and speed.
Dillinger scored 15 points in 39 minutes in Game 1 but only played for 18 minutes in Game 2 after falling down hard after a foul on ROS’s Wayne Chism. He ended with just 4 markers.
While still hurt, he intends on playing on Saturday.
In the past, the Bolts always had the series opener in a best of three affair, yet still failed to close out. Game 3, like Gregorio said, will be about accuracy - not just on offense but also on defense.
Alaska-Rain or Shine: A very tough grind
Marc Pingris' logic is simple: if he thinks he can still play, then he will.
While enduring pain from a bruised rib, Pingris fought with sheer resilience, tallied a Herculian effort of 17 points and 12 rebounds in Game 2 that saw the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers winning, 70-65 and tying the series.
He was a non-factor in Game 1 with just 4 points and 5 boards. But he knew San Mig was banking on his immeasurable fighting spirit.
And the Mixers' hustle king delivered.
"I don't think about it (injury)," said the Mixers' defensive stalwart. "It will only cross my mind after the game, when I started feeling it."
Mixers head coach Tim Cone put it in the most simple manner after their Game 2 win:
"Pure and simple: we grinded out. We tried to create new things in the second half. (I told my players) Okay, let's just grind it out."
The defending Commissioner's Cup champions Alaska Aces on the other hand, looked like they were ready to pack up and go to a vacation. There was no intensity in Game 2, no championship-level basketball, no energy.
"We settled for three-pointers because we were checked inside," said a frustrated Trillo.
Alaska threw 34 attempts from long distance and only two more from inside the 3-pt line. In Game 1, they had 62 tries inside and only 21 from the outside.
Their Commissioner's Cup title is on the line, and in order to win, the Aces must return to their dangerous form, like how they outplayed the Mixers in Game 1.
With all four teams vying for the remaining Final Four slots, the Big Dome will be transformed to a war zone on Saturday.