How do elite basketball teams win games?
Drawing a solid performance from their superstars?
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters did a combination of all that in Game 2 to pull out a masterful 116-108 conquest of Talk ‘N Text and tie the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals series at 1-all.
The Tropang Texters went on a tear in the second quarter, drawing strength from an out-of-this-universe spree from unarguably Asia’s best backcourt player Jayson Castro, who torched the hoops for 27 first half points which included a string of 4 straight triples.
Talk ‘N Text poured 36 points in the second period, held a 62-49 halftime advantage and appeared to be on its way to a 2-0 series lead.
But Rain or Shine once again proved why in this era, being a one-dimensional squad can hurt you in many ways. The Tropang Texters’ first half barrage looked magnificent as it was spiked by Castro’s explosion, but in reality, Rain or Shine did not shoot bad at all. The team was still within distance and the next few minutes, they finally recovered.
In the second half, Rain or Shine got its bearings and matched Talk ‘N Text fire for fire. And the difference-maker was the Elasto Painters’ astounding effort on defense that stymied the Tropang Texters’ offensive juggernaut.
“That’s our usual game. We never were an isolation or one-on-one team. We are the top assists team in the league and it is a testament to the participation of all our players on offense,” Guiao said.
“It’s not by chance. It’s by design. This is one thing we lacked in Game 1 and we tried to bring back our regular game in Game 2,” Guiao quipped of his crew’s aggressiveness.
Unlike in Game 1 where the Elasto Painters settled for hurried outside shots and picked up their dribble too early, the ball never stopped on offense in Game 2. They constantly attacked the basket and created opportunities from there. The unselfishness paid off and Rain or Shine scored on both high-percentage baskets (48-44 edge in point in the paint) and three-point shots (15-for-36).
On defense, Rain or Shine gambled with a small line-up while putting Gabe Norwood on the four spot and letting Jireh Ibanes defend Castro. It took away Castro’s role as a creator (he finished with 44 points but only had 3 assists – all in the first half) while the team had quick players who can switch and recover.
“Talk ‘N Text plays similar but Jayson was just lighting it up so today they went to their strong point. But Jayson is just one person. You still have to play as a team,” Guiao emphasized.
“We know we do not have much talent offensively so you have to compensate on defense. On certain nights you will have players who make contributions. If those things don’t happen you still have to win and that is by playing defense.”
The Tropang Texters’ assists dropped to 15 from 21 in Game 2, and also committed 16 turnovers which led to 19 turnover points for the Elasto Painters.
Another glaring statistic that proved to be costly for Jong Uichico’s troops was their defensive rating. After allowing Rain or Shine only 95.96 points per 100 possessions in Game 1, Talk ‘N Text struggled to get stops and Rain or Shine’s offensive rating skyrocketed to 133.33 points per 100 possessions in Game 2.
“Kailangan namin mag-emphasize ng defense kasi wala naman kaming Jayson Castro or Ranidel (De Ocampo) or (Matt) Ganuelas na pwede mo bigyan ng bola at tumabi ka na. Samin only Paul (Lee) is really like that so we have to run our plays and find other ways to score,” Guiao added.
Five players scored in double-digits for Rain or Shine. Wayne Chism led the way with 30 points while Lee added 20. In a game where both teams tried to outscore each other, the Elasto Painters had the edge as they also got the job done defensively.
With a strong bounce-back game, Rain or Shine proved the team is on the same page. The series is far from over and it can obviously go either way.