Rain or Shine bleeding by San Miguel’s three-point blows
MANILA, Philippines – For all that’s been said about their depth, Rain or Shine is proving too shallow for the overflowing offensive talent on the San Miguel Beer bench.
The Painters are slowly dying by the Beermen’s lethal three-point shooting as they fell behind 2-1 in their best-of-5 semifinals series of the 2015 PBA Governors' Cup after dropping game 3, 114-108, owing once more to San Miguel’s 67% shooting from long range.
“It’s still about the three-point shooting,” rued Painters head coach Yeng Guiao on Monday, July 6.
“I thought that after one torrid night of shooting for San Miguel, the percentages could drop. But they got higher. We just can’t pray and hope that their outside shooting [misses] unless we find a way to stop it. We can’t just hope that the law of averages catches up with them.”
San Miguel made it rain from beyond the arc and totaled 39 treys in their past two outings.
Rain or Shine barely escaped in game 2 despite a playoff record 21 triples by their foes, including 10 from Marcio Lassiter alone, thanks to a Jeff Chan game-winner. But after a game 3 where the Painters failed to win even when they rivaled the Beermen’s 18 triples with 14 of their own, it’s becoming clear they are overwhelmed and out-matched.
The problem being that San Miguel is rich with options, whether in the paint or on the perimeter.
“We need to address their three-point shooting and also get back to our regular match-ups,” Guiao said as his team sorely missed the additional bodies of injured big men Beau Belga (right foot) and Jervy Cruz (left toe).
“They just have too many offensive weapons that if we mess up with our match-ups, they can beat us by sheer talent. We just have to help each other out and be able to get Beau (Belga) back into circulation and relieve some of that match-up problem.”
Center Beau Belga missed games 2 and 3 after spraining his ankle in the series opener and left partner JR Quiñahan, lanky sophomore Raymond Almazan and import Wendell McKines to man the paint against the taller San Miguel led by reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo.
“We were forced to play small because of the foul situation with our bigs,” Guiao explained. “We already don’t have Beau and Jervy, but the early fouls on Raymond and JR forced us to take Wendell out of AZ (Reid) and put him on Fajardo – something we really don’t want because we want AZ being defended by McKines.
“We were forced out of that match-up because we were trying to preserve our bigs and we were short on bigs especially against Fajardo,” he added.
But even then, Rain or Shine’s smaller frontline managed to make life difficult for Fajardo, who ended up in foul trouble and had to earn most of his 17 points from the stripe. He also had just 8 rebounds along with 5 turnovers.
“We did a good job actually getting June Mar in foul trouble and in this game he still ended up putting up his numbers but he wasn’t as effective as he’s been in other games,” said defensive specialist Gabe Norwood. “It’s really just been the 3.”
“May rule kami doon kay June Mar na talagang hindi iiwan ng big man yun,” added Quiñahan, who likewise pointed out they’ve managed Fajardo’s presence. “Hindi kami pwedeng mag-help sa iba. Talagang full time kami kay June Mar. Lahat kaming kumukuha kay June Mar nandoon lang sa kanya.”
(We have rule for June Mar where we are never supposed to leave him. We can’t help on other players. We’re home full time on June Mar. All of us who defend him just stick to him.)
Without Belga, Rain or Shine adjusted and still neutralized Fajardo and San Miguel’s attacks with a zone. But the Beermen also employed the zone, and the Painters were instead confronted with the sharp shooting Arizona “AZ” Reid, who drained 7-of-10 three-pointers for his 37 points.
Alex Cabagnot and Lassiter likewise contributed a combined 9 triples for 26 and 17 points, respectively.
“It’s pick your poison,” said Norwood, who urges smarter play for his team in game 4. “We just have to play more efficiently and stick to the game plan because right now they’re shooting the mess out of the ball. And so we have to make them miss.”
“If we do both (contain Fajardo and limit San Miguel’s threes), I think we can win,” he added. “But we gave up all those threes last game but we still found a way to win.”
Guiao, Norwood and Quiñahan all agree that Rain or Shine should execute rotations to a T if they are to have a chance of extending the series.
Guiao’s homework before Wednesday’s game 4 will be on how they could have every threat covered. But a significant weight on the team’s shoulders will be lifted as Belga, though still limping Monday night, stated he will play on Wednesday.
“Raymond did his best, JR did his best but they’re just too small for June Mar,” Guiao said. “We just have to collapse on him and if you collapse, the 3-point shot is always going to be open. Maybe if we have Beau we won’t have to collapse on June Mar that much.”
Belga’s return will allow the Painters to stick to the match-ups that work best for them, keep to their game plan and, hopefully, douse water on the hot-shooting Beermen. The beefy slot man likely won’t be a hundred percent healthy, but Guiao said a 75% version of Belga will be enough.
Rain or Shine’s hand is being forced in this series with two choices of poison – the dominant San Miguel inside, or the potent outside shooting Beermen. Neither is less fatal than the other. – Rappler.com