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Rain or Shine broke down NLEX with their determined drives
by rick olivares pic by nuki sabio
The NLEX Road Warriors never allowed the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters blow them out as they gamely battled back from deficits time and again in their Tuesday evening clash at the Big Dome. The Road Warriors caught up and briefly led but they lapsed into a series of poor executions in their offense that cost them the game, 96-91.
I thought that Rain or Shine ran their plays as much as they could. Even when it bogged down, they went back to their system while NLEX oft played one on one with kickouts from the post.
Let me illustrate this.
Early in the third quarter, RoS point guard Chris Tiu was playing up high while directing his team’s offense. He passed laterally to Beau Belga who was atop the arc. The pass was picked off and it led to a couple of free throws for NLEX.
Tiu would commit another error this time in zipping a difficult pass to teammate Raymond Almazan who was open underneath the basket. The sophomore slot man out of Letran later flubbed another pass from Belga in the same position.
Watching RoS head coach Yeng Guiao, in spit of the errors, he didn’t get upset. They after all had repeatedly found holes in NLEX’s defense and the latter still had not plugged them.
A few minutes later, in the same position, Tiu, playing a little closer to the three-point arc, found Belga once more who was open. Asi Taulava scampered towards him but the burly Elasto Painter drove and drew the help defense. In one motion, he dropped the ball to a now wide-open Raymond Almazan underneath. Bucket. Play finally executed to perfection; 62-56, RoS.
Watching Rain or Shine more closely in the second half, they would send Paul Lee or Belga atop the arc. They had three options here depending on the spacing and how the Road Warriors defended the play:
a) Pitch the ball to Richard Jackson who would go up to the free throw line where he either attempted a jumper or drove to the basket.
b) Drive hard to the basket.
c) Drive hard and wait for the help defense before passing out to the shooters along the arc.
I thought that the poor perimeter defense of the Road Warriors allowed the Elasto Painters to drive almost whenever they wanted. In fact, I thought NLEX only defended the play well once in the second half.
Looking at the statistics, the boys of Yeng Guiao netted 24 assists to the measly seven of NLEX. Too much on individual play and not enough passing and they never effectively shut down RoS from going to their staple play. Ryan Araña, Jonathan Uyloan, and Jeff Chan got some points off this play.
In the penultimate RoS offensive with a little over 20 seconds left in the game and the score 92-89 for the former, the Elasto Painters spread the floor with a few staying close to the baseline. That ensured that NLEX import Al Thornton and center Asi Taulava stayed deep and inside the lane. When Lee got the ball on an isolation play with Mark Borboran guarding him. Borboran gave him so much room (and Lee can drive to his weaker side the left just as adeptly as he could to his right) to operate that he backed up until Lee had all the space to shoot and hit a bank shot with no help coming as Taulava and Thornton were behind their teammate. Bucket, 94-89.
What could have NLEX done in defending what RoS was doing? Am no coach but I would suggest that maybe they play a 1-3-1 on defense to cover the shooters around the arc while leaving Thornton, a very good shot blocker in the paint to defend those who got past his long-limbed teammates –Aldrech Ramos, Borboran, and Taulava.