PBA semis preview: ROS tries to stain TNT's onslaught
MANILA, Philippines - Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao's mindset for the semifinals is simple: they have to beat the best in order to be called the best team.
Right after ousting a gallant Meralco Bolts squad in the hardest way possible in their best-of-three quarterfinals, Guiao quickly recognized Talk 'N Text as the best squad in the 2014 PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner's Cup.
And he is keen on dealing them a defeat to steal that distinction.
"It is a challenge. We want to be the best and we have to beat the best which is Talk 'N Text," said the fiery mentor, who begins his best-of-5 showdown with the Tropang Texters on Monday, April 28 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. (VIEW: PBA 2014 Commissioner's Cup semifinals schedule)
The Elasto Painters have won four of their last five outings, and while giving away 86.3 points to their opponents in wins, Rain or Shine's physicality especially on the defensive end can tire an opponent out.
Particularly in Game 3 against the Meralco Bolts, Wayne Chism was phenomenal in stopping Darnell Jackson as if putting a hex on the Bolts' import. Jackson breathed heavily from his mouth, settled for jumpers, and walked slowly up and down the court from the fatigue brought by Chism's stinging defense.
When most others doubted Chism early in the conference, the Painters' reinforcement upped his elimination averages of 17.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG to a dominating 30 PPG, 13.3 RPG, and 3.7 BPG stat line in the quarterfinals.
"Our import, he carried us on his shoulders. He is the far more superior import than Jackson," added Guiao.
One of ROS's defensive stalwarts, Jireh Ibanes, knows they have no other choice but to go through TNT. He wants the troops' discipline to be solid.
"We have no choice. We will stay with them (on defense) and be physical without fouling."
But beating Meralco is just the first step. Guiao's troops are matched up against the league's best team who have won 10 in a row on fluid offense and solid execution. (READ: Running Talk 'N Text's system to perfection)
Getting back a healthy unit on the floor is exactly what Coach Norman Black ordered, and it is paying dividends.
"I think being healthy has been the key since in the previous conferences, we always had a teammate who is out," said Jayson Castro, who is injury-free this conference.
The Tropang Texters' one-two combo of Ranidel de Ocampo, the league's 3rd-best scorer with 15.5 PPG and Larry Fonacier, the most accurate rifleman from long distance at 52.6%, will be Black's old reliables for this series.
De Ocampo himself is shooting above 40% from three-point land while the entire squad is the best-shooting team from rainbow territory, hitting 35.3% while only taking 24.4 attempts a game.
Aside from the two, TNT's veteran core composed of Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes, Kelly Williams, Harvey Carey, Jimmy Alapag, and new season additions Danny Seigle and KG Canaleta, shall all help the crew in their quest to make it to the top once again.
It has been 4 conferences since their last title, and the pack is determined to roll over and assert dominance.
Jayson Castro (13.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.7 APG) vs Paul Lee (14.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG)
The battle between the two teams' premier backcourt generals will give people a glimpse of who the better creator is. Lee is bulkier and more physical than Castro but the latter will bolster his speed to get away from ROS's defense. The 25-year-old Lee is fresh from a stinging finals loss against San Mig Coffee but has carried the Elasto Painters on his back convincingly. Castro, as expected, puts reliable numbers each night on a consistent basis. Expect the two Gilas Pilipinas guards to take charge when the game goes down the wire.
Talk 'N Text: Kelly Williams
It is hard to pick an X-factor when you have a powerhouse roster, but Williams' presence on defense and rebounding will be huge.
Rain or Shine: Ryan Arana, Jireh Ibanes
The Elasto Painters' pair of defensive wing men are assigned to stretch out on TNT's outside gunners, and will have to contain the Texters' cat-quick guards too from time to time.
Can Rain or Shine solve the Talk 'N Text riddle?
It will all depend on how well Rain or Shine defends throughout the series. The semifinals is best of 5 and the Tropang Texters are well-equipped for war. The Elasto Painters need to double up on the defensive end and limit the Tropang Texters' attacks.
Richard Howell is coming off a 41-point, 22-rebound performance in the quarterfinals game against Ginebra, sending a statement that he might be the best import in this season after all. But Chism's breakout showing in the playoffs is also a strong sign that he means business.
In terms of bench depth, both crews have reliable second and third units. Rain or Shine can push Talk 'N Text to the limit, but the Tropang Texters are hungrier. Talk 'N Text in 5. - Rappler.com