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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
Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS
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

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS

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

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS

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

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS

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

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS

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

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS

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?

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS
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


Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup Semis Survival Kit: SMB vs. ROS

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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