#4 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel vs #5 Rain or Shine Elasto Painters
Elimination round meeting: Barangay Ginebra def. Rain or Shine, 103-92.
Despite having to make three import changes in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters still managed to rack up a 7-4 record, showing how important it is to have a tested core that has been together for about three or four seasons.
Rain or Shine is attempting to enter the semi-finals for the ninth straight conference, but the team is facing arguably the toughest road block in recent memory towards achieving that goal.
Barangay Ginebra continues to improve under the tutelage of multi-titled mentor Tim Cone, matching the same number of wins they’ve had in the elimination round of the Philippine Cup. Ginebra is 3-2 against teams above .500 in this conference, including back to back wins against the top two seeds San Miguel and Meralco to close the team’s elimination round campaign.
Aside from that, Ginebra holds a league-best net rating of +5.4 and a league-best defense of 96.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. On offense, Ginebra leads everyone in assists with 22.4 per outing. Rain or Shine is not far behind, boosting a third-best offense, fourth-best assists output, and fourth-best three-point field goal percentage.
Such signs point that this series might be the most competitive of all four. A team trying to continue its semi-finals streak against a team trying to make the last four for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
The case for Barangay Ginebra:
One cannot simply ignore the presence of Greg Slaughter. He leads locals in scoring and win shares. His offensive game has blossomed under the triangle because of the touches he is getting. He alters shots on the defensive end. Japeth Aguilar has proved he can give his opponents some fits. Import Othyus Jeffers (23.1 PPG, 16.4 RPG, 5 APG, 1.5 SPG) is the perfect complement for the system, plugging in whatever hole is missing for the team. The team has a steady playmaker in LA Tenorio. They are the best defensive team in the league, and they have shown they can force opponents to play the pace they favor. Overall, this team is a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts and this series is an opportunity to showcase what they can do with more time together as a unit.
The case for Rain or Shine:
Despite having to change reinforcements three times, the Elasto Painters still managed to find ways to win a bunch of games. Yeng Guiao’s system played a big part in the team’s campaign this conference. When it’s Rain or Shine, anybody can take charge. It does not matter whether his import scores plenty of points or not, because it is only a small part of the entire success of the squad. They have an abundance of tools in all positions to be dangerous enough. They have shooters, perimeter defenders, and a frontcourt rotation that just got deeper with the arrival of Pierre Henderson-Niles. Coupled with ball movement, familiarity, and a league-best pace, this team is difficult to contain when they get on a roll.
Barangay Ginebra: Greg Slaughter (18.5 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.5 BPG)
As mentioned above, Slaughter impacts the game more than any other Ginebra local. He is the tallest player in this series, and he has to take charge and show the Elasto Painters’ frontcourt that they can’t push him around or contain him.
Rain or Shine: JR Quinahan (14.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 42.4 percent 3 PT FGs)
JR Quinahan has been the Elasto Painters’ most consistent player in the conference. Such ability to space the floor will be key in drawing bigs outside and giving the team enough openings to attack. He has to put up the same numbers to give his team a legitimate shot at winning the series.
Barangay Ginebra: Chris Ellis
Ellis is shooting 35 percent overall from three-point area this conference, which is way higher than any percentage he’s shot in the past four seasons. He has shot 67 percent from deep in the last two games (both wins). Ginebra ranks dead last in three-point percentage but if Ellis can provide another point of attack for the team, then that Rain or Shine defense has to work harder.
Rain or Shine: Jeff Chan
Chan has been shooting 52.9 percent from three-point area in the last three games. Rain or Shine will need such firepower to stretch the floor and give Ginebra different looks.
Barangay Ginebra in 3. This team is for real. They closed the elimination round winning seven of the last nine. Those wins over San Miguel and Meralco are no fluke, and only show how far this team has reached compared to when they first played under Cone. Rain or Shine remains a serious contender, but Ginebra should be able to take the Elasto Painters’ best punches and land a spot in the last four.