STRANGE things continue to happen in the PBA this season.
It was only a conference ago that Alaska came one win away from sweeping its way to a title, only to eventually fall on the wrong side of history as San Miguel completed an unprecedented comeback.
Now, the Aces are going for their own ‘HimAlaska’ after winning two straight games to eat into the 3-0 lead of Rain or Shine, which certainly doesn't want to suffer the same fate as Alaska in the Commissioner's Cup Finals.
So what worked for RoS in the first three games and what changed in the next two?
SPIN.ph finds out with some number crunching and stats analysis. Here are some of the key players involved in the major turning points of the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup Finals so far.
*Legend: PTS – Points; %FG – Field Goal Percentage; 3PTM – Three pointers made; %3PT – Three point shooting percentage; REB – Rebounds; OReb – Offensive Rebounds; AST – Assists; STL – Steals; BLK – Blocks; TO – Turnovers
Games 1-3: 16.3 PTS, 50% FG, 2.7 3PTM, 57.1% 3PT, 5.3 REB (2 OReb), 2.3 AST, 1.7 STL, 0 BLK, 1.7 TO in 23.7 minutes
Games 4-5: 8.5 PTS, 31.3% FG, 1 3PTM, 33.3% 3PT, 0.5 REB (0.5 OReb), 1.5 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.5 BLK, 0.5 TO in 23 minutes
Rain or Shine’s offense was humming in the first three games, scoring 107.3 points on 51.3 percent shooting against the usually stingy Alaska defense. It did most of the damage on the break and beyond the arc, making 13.3 threes a game on 50.6 percent shooting. Three ROS players averaged at least two treys a game, including Jericho Cruz who made almost three treys each outing on a team-best 57% clip. He was even the team’s leading scorer, leading the way in ROS’ charge. His production, though, drastically dropped across the stat sheet beginning in Game 4. The next guy might have something to do with it.
Games 1-3: DNP
Games 4-5: 6 PTS, 57.1% FG, 1 3PTM, 50% 3PT, 3 REB (1.5 OReb), 1 AST, 0.5 STL, 0 BLK, 1.5 TO in 27 minutes
Ping Exciminiano got injured and coach Alex Compton pulled an ace (pun intended) up his sleeve in surprise starter Kevin Racal. The rookie’s numbers aren’t that impressive but his value can't be seen from the stat sheet. The Aces managed to get longer and stronger with Racal on the wings to match up with the Elasto Painters fast break attack and contain the shooters. Racal’s insertion to the starting lineup helped the Aces bring down the E-Painters hot shooting from deep to 7.5 makes on just 25.4% shooting.
Games 1-3: 8.3 PTS, 57.9% FG, 13 REB (3.7 OReb), 2.7 AST, 1.3 STL, 1.3 BLK, 2.3 TO in 34 minutes
Games 4-5: 4.5 PTS, 33.3% FG, 6.5 REB (1.5 OReb), 0.5 AST, 0.5 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO in 23.5 minutes
Pierre Henderson-Niles isn’t really known for his scoring, but he plays his role — fierce rebounder, efficient scorer in the paint, wide-bodied defender — really well. It showed in the first three wins for Rain or Shine. But his production was cut in half, from scoring to shooting and even in rebounding beginning in Game 4. Alaska attacked the burly import relentlessly and thus he played less due to foul trouble as well.
Games 1-3: 14.3 PTS, 38.1% FG, 0.3 3PTM, 7.7% 3PT, 8.3 REB (3.3 OReb), 3.3 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 3 TO in 30.3 minutes
Games 4-5: 17 PTS, 35.5% FG, 0 3PTM, 0% 3PT, 11.5 REB (2.5 OReb), 3 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO in 29 minutes
Calvin Abueva’s production has steadily declined from the eliminations to the semis of the Commissioner’s Cup, owing to the fact that his hot start got the rest of the teams plotting better ways to tame ‘The Beast.’ From scoring 18.5 points in the elims to 16 in the semis, Abueva’s output and shooting efficiency continued to plunge in the first three games of the Finals. Something triggered the Abueva of old soon as he cut his hair, err, received his first Best Player of the Conference award. His shooting is still horrid, which is more reason why he abandoned the three point shot starting in Game Four, but his defensive stats intensified as he increased his output in rebounds and blocks. He’s also attacking the paint more as he’s been making and taking more free throws in Games Four and Five compared to the first three outings.
Games 1-3: 9.3 PTS, 45.5% FG, 1.3 3PTM, 57.1% 3PT, 2.7 REB (0.3 OReb), 0.7 AST, 0.7 STL, 0 BLK, 1.3 TO in 16 minutes
Games 4-5: 9.5 PTS, 42.1% FG, 0.5 3PTM, 14.3% 3PT, 5 REB (0.5 OReb), 1 AST, 0 STL, 0.5 BLK, 1.5 TO in 24.5 minutes
JR Quinahan was quietly having his best conference as the top RoS in terms of statistics in the Commissioner’s Cup. But he’s been eerily silent in the finals. Consistently among the league leaders in field goal and three point shooting, Quinahan’s shot has dipped particularly in the last two games. His scoring average has also dropped by more than four points compared to his output before the finals. Will the real JR Quinahan finally show up in Game Six? Rain or Shine badly needs him to do just that if they are to avert disaster.