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2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS

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The San Miguel Beermen continue their title-retention bid in the PBA Philippine Cup, and the next big test for the reigning champions are the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

Even with the absence of Paul Lee, the Elasto Painters have achieved yet another remarkable run in the conference. They have been in the semi-finals for eight consecutive conferences, the longest active streak among PBA teams.

The two powerhouse squads are neck-and-neck in several categories. The Beermen lead the league in offense and net rating while Rain or Shine are second in both categories. San Miguel also have a better defensive rating at 96.1 to Rain or Shine’s 96.5.

But the Elasto Painters are the better rebounding team with 51/game, and they also lead the league in total assists and field goal percentage.

The huge disparity is pace. San Miguel love playing with a slower tempo, and try to look for the best shot possible. The Beermen only have a pace of 90.6, second lowest in the league, while the Elasto Painters are second highest at 98.6, as they try to run and take advantage of every scoring opportunity.

Rain or Shine have scored a league-best 23.6 fastbreak points/game, while San Miguel top the second chance points with 15.4/game.

With two of the best teams colliding and a spot to the finals at stake, along with Rain or Shine’s hunger to get over the hump and San Miguel’s quest to defend the crown, this series promises to be an exciting one.

Four things


1.) Lee-thal weapon returns
PBA PH CUP - ROS SH - Paul Lee huddle
Paul Lee has not played since the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup. Coach Yeng Guiao has already announced he will be playing Lee for limited stretches, which is a risky move since it may mess up the rotation the Elasto Painters are used to this conference. But Guiao loves taking risks, and Lee is one of the best players when he has the ball so San Miguel must come prepared.

2.) An even better June Mar Fajardo

PBA41 PH Cup - MAH SMB - Fajardo double team

The reigning back-to-back MVP is in the best form of his early PBA career. He has shot close to 58 percent from the field and has averaged 23.1 PPG, 14.4 RPG, and 1.8 BPG, all better numbers than the 2014-15 Philippine Cup. He has become a better reader when at the low post, and can do an array of moves with the leather. Fajardo just has to play it smartly in the series to give San Miguel a decisive edge.

3.) Philippine Cup Arwind Santos

Santos

Arwind Santos always plays effectively in all-Filipino conferences, as he is able to do a lot at his natural position. This conference is no different for the reigning Finals MVP. Santos has averaged 15.5 PPG and 7.2 RPG, both higher than in the last Philippine Cup. Although his percentages have gone down slightly, he has been playing with more maturity and has been making great decisions on the floor to help his team succeed.

4.) Containing the giant

PBA41 PH Cup - ROS BE - Almazan (2)

The Elasto Painters have more bigs this time to try and make it difficult for Fajardo. Jewel Ponferrada has provided Rain or Shine with additional bulk and height, while Raymond Almazan is one of the best rebounders in the league today. Rain or Shine still has the Extra Rice duo of JR Quinahan and Beau Belga. Fajardo will go down as the biggest difference-maker in the series, and it is a matter of how to limit his impact for the Elasto Painters to make things interesting.

NEXT PAGE: X-Factors, The Burning Question, and Prognosis

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X-Factors


San Miguel: The bench

Yancy De Ocampo

The Beermen should get contributions from their second and third groups. Yancy de Ocampo, Gabby Espinas, and Jay-R Reyes must play well if ever Fajardo gets hounded with foul trouble. Chris Ross must facilitate well; Chris Lutz, Ronald Tubid, and Ryan Arana should give extra offense and toughness in the perimeter. This is a series where the Beermen must show how deep they really are.

Rain or Shine: The wings

PBA41 PH Cup - ROS BE - Cruz

Compared to the previous conferences, Rain or Shine have arguably a better core of wing guys today. Jericho Cruz; rookies Don Trollano and Maverick Ahanmisi; Jireh Ibanes; and even Jeric Teng have all given the Elasto Painters more depth this conference. They have more size and can do a lot on the offensive end. In this series, they should all be productive to make it difficult for San Miguel.

The Burning Question


How strong will San Miguel be in this series?

Lassiter
Arguably the strongest team in the league right now and the team setting the standard right over the past four conferences, the length of this series may pretty much depend on how San Miguel plays. Will June Mar Fajardo be a 25-15-3 beast every game? Which versions of Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter shall people see? Will the bench contribute big time? The Beermen are up against one of the best incarnations of the Rain or Shine side, and they have to bring it and show why they are the defending Philippine Cup winners.

Prognosis


PBA41 PH Cup - MAH SMB - Arwind Santos

San Miguel in 7.

It will be a hard-fought series but in the end, the Beermen have the best big man in the league today, and he makes a world of differences for the defending Philippine Cup champions.

Who do you think will win and in how many games? June Mar Fajardo and the San Miguel Beermen or Raymond Almazan and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters? Sound-off in our comments section below
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Basketball

Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao called Chris Ross the “N” word that caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nagflare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

Guiao though denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also against Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it really has become a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now went down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees the great need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’

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Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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Downcast Chris Ross chooses to stay mum after heated altercation with Yeng Guiao

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Through wins or losses, Chris Ross has always accommodated the members of the press asking for interviews and fans requesting for photo ops every after game. But Friday evening, the nine-year pro was despondent.

Visibly agitated with the events that had transpired during the San Miguel Beermen’s tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors, Ross, with his hoodie covering his head, left the Cuneta Astrodome without saying a word.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had figured in physical play after physical play and verbal exchange after verbal exchange with the frustrated Road Warriors.

Ross and Alex Mallari were both slapped with technicals after a confrontation with 9:06 left. This was just the start of many things to come for the Filipino-American defensive specialist

After knocking down a triple and receiving a taunt from Ross, Michael Miranda was assessed a disqualifying foul for an apparent kick to the groin against Ross with 4:35 left.

The tip of the iceberg came with 1:46 left to play and the game all but settled.

Yeng Guiao and Ross figured in a heated word war that resulted in Ross’ second technical foul for the game. Referees and players from both sides had to separate the two to prevent things from escalating.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria alleged that the fiery NLEX mentor said the “N” word, while some said Guiao called Ross a “bitch”.

Ross finished the game with four points, eight rebounds, and four steals in 37 minutes of action.

For sure, penalties and suspensions will come out of this game.

And it was better for Ross to stay silent.

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ABL

Jason Brickman flirts with triple-double as Mono holds off Singapore

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After playing his worst game of the season last Sunday against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, Jason Brickman bounced back, steering the Mono Vampire to a 91-88 road victory over the Singapore Slingers, Friday evening at the OCBC Arena.

The 26-year-old, who finished with just seven points and three assists in their 71-104 loss to Alab, tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. The league-leader in assists did not take a break, playing all 40 minutes.

But it was not a walk in the park for the Thailand-based squad.

Mono led by as much as 22 points, 60-48, with 7:46 left, 16 points entering the final frame. A furious fourth quarter rally by Singapore sliced the lead, turning the game into a single-possession contest with a minute left. The steady hands of Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary from the stripe fended off Singapore.

Brickman’s compatriot Paul Zamar chipped in 13 markers for Mono.

Since torching Alab last January 3, Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani has been on a slump, going just 3-for-11 from the field for nine points.

Mono’s World Imports Samuel Deguara and Mike Singletary both finished with 26 points with the former hauling down 18 rebounds. For Singapore, Xavier Alexander paced the Slingers with 29 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

With the win, the Vampire kept solo third with a 7-4 slate. On the other hand, the Slingers dropped its second straight game since winning against Alab, falling to 5-6.

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