RAIN or Shine tries to continue pouncing on an advantage it has against San Miguel Beer as it seeks to put their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series on level terms Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters have had success keeping SMB behemoth June Mar Fajardo out of the shaded lane by matching him up with shooting and quicker big men Wendell Mckines, Beau Belga, and JR Quiñahan.
“They’re trying to create a mismatch by neutralizing June Mar because there’s no way for him to extend his defense out in the perimeter,” San Miguel coach Leo Austria said.
To counter, the Beermen employed a zone defense that didn’t force Fajardo to stretch his defense and allowed the team to come back from a huge 24-point deficit and score a stunning 101-95 win.
Game Two tips off at 5 p.m.
Fajardo finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but was limited to 11 attempts and played 34 minutes as Austria opted for quicker big men to negate their disadvantage.
Mckines hauled down 16 rebounds, 10 on the offensive end.
“Kailangan i-box out si Mckines kasi mataas yung second chance points nila eh,” Fajardo said as the Painters scored 17 second-chance points, two more than the bigger Beermen.
That’s why Painters coach Yeng Guiao is expected to stick to his current matchup on offense, but is hoping his team improves on its defensive assignments.
“We’re pretty satisfied (with how we matched up against June Mar)… They were not able to dominate us as much as they would’ve wanted to ,” he said.
“But there were defensive breakdowns on their shooters,” Guiao was quick to add.
Indeed, it was the Beermen’s shooters - and not Fajardo - who bailed them out as Marcio Lassiter buried four three-pointers, Alex Cabagnot three, and Arwind Santos and Ronald Tubid with one apiece.
The Painters, though, failed to take advantage of the zone defense, which usually benefits three-point shooting teams. Although they had 45 attempts, they managed to make only 11 for a paltry 24 percent from beyond the arc.
Guiao said the best-of-five series opener would’ve had a different ending had Rain or Shine just made at least two more triples even though it wasted a sizeable lead.
“This is still going to be a good, long series,” the outspoken mentor said. “We expect to go Game Five.”