TNT needs to make some adjustments immediately if they want this series to go at least 6 games. Another loss for TNT (their third straight in the Finals) would almost assure that RoS would be raising the Commissioner’s Cup trophy by next week. Anyway, here are some keys to winning the game for both teams.
Rain or Shine
Sharing is caring.
Coaches will always preach ball movement and looking for the extra pass to get a great shot. The epitome of team play can be found in the number of assists. RoS certainly displayed that in Game 3 when they amassed 27 assists. Their point guards, Paul Lee and Chris Tiu, each had five assists while Gabe Norwood also contributed five dimes. On the other hand, TNT only had 11 assists.
Continue rotating the lineup.
In Game 3, Jericho Cruz was a surprise starter. That move might have caught TNT unprepared. The rookie was given 19 minutes of play and Cruz responded with 14 points to go along with his physical play, high intensity and tough defense. Other rotation players like Chris Tiu (6 points) and JR Quiñahan (9 points) also contributed.
Let’s get physical.
Body bumping and chest-thumping are common occurrences in a RoS game. It’s no surprise that they are playing physical in this series and they are experts in playing mind games. It has worked so far since their main target; Ivan Johnson has succumbed to taunts, trash talking and others. Johnson was reportedly waiting to pick a fight with Ryan Araña after the game.
Keep on running.
RoS was able to force a bunch of turnovers from TNT and the Elasto Painters pilfered the ball eight times. This allowed them to run in transition and score a bevy of fast break points where RoS had a +12 advantage over TNT (17 to 5). RoS also has more transition finishers like Norwood, Lee, Araña, Jericho Cruz, Chan and Almazan which make it a lot easier for them to run on every opportunity.
Talk ‘N Text
More ball movement please!
You won’t win a lot of games when you have more turnovers (13) than assists (11). Jayson Castro had the same number of assists and turnovers (4). How did this happen? Isolation plays were prevalent in their half court sets and TNT simply did not rotate the ball from side-to-side. Quick shots after 2-3 passes were common and even Castro kept the ball often to go one-on-one (or two or against the whole RoS team).
The bench needs to contribute.
It has been mentioned time and time again that TNT has a very deep bench. They have two ex-MVPs (Kelly Williams and Willie Miller) and two former multiple BPC winners (Jay Washington and Danny Seigle) but the bench has performed poorly in the Finals. In Game 3, the bench for RoS thoroughly outscored TNT, 39-10. Part of the blame goes to the coaching staff of TNT because they haven’t utilized their bench as well as RoS. This has to change in Game 4 because if the bench does not produce again, expect RoS to have a 3-1 series edge soon.
Stop settling for threes.
While the three-point shot is a known strength of TNT (just like RoS), the Tropang Texters cannot settle for threes especially when they are not falling. Castro and RDO each attempted eight threes but they only connected on a total of 5 threes. Their reliance on the long ball hurt TNT because instead of attacking the paint or running a play, TNT simply hoisted threes. I think ROS would be a lot happier if Castro continued to launch threes instead of driving to the hoop where he is more dangerous.
Slow down Wayne Chism.
I made a mistake in predicting that Ivan Johnson would be the better import in the Finals. Chism has been more productive and effective than Johnson in all three games. It’s about time that TNT puts extra effort in getting the ball out of Chism’s hands at all cost. They should double team him, deny him the ball and/or have Johnson defend him early. If TNT manages to limit Chism to less than 30 points, then they might get to tie the series.
Prediction for Game 4:
TNT’s bench will finally contribute after three games of lackluster performances. TNT will escape with a win to tie the series at 2-2 and assure us that we get at least six games in the Finals. Is there anyone here who does not want a long series? =)