The Kraken needed to be unleashed to buck Rain or Shine’s challenge
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters implemented a perfect game plan against the league-leading San Miguel Beermen. And 48 minutes was not enough in the hotly-contested encounter that saw Rain or Shine even take the lead for a total of 20 minutes and 59 seconds.
But still it wasn’t enough as the Beermen were able to escape with a 107-101 overtime win to go just a win shy of clinching top seed in the 2016-17 PBA Philippine Cup.
During the game, ROS head coach Caloy Garcia pushed the tempo, setting the game into their pace. It worked for the most part as reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo was limited to just four points in the first half and struggled against the stretch bigs of Rain or Shine.
“Ang ganda ng game plan nila. Grabe yung takbuhan nila,” Fajardo praised. “Yung big man nila tumitira sa labas. Si Beau [Belga], si [Jewel] Ponferrada, si [Dexter] Maiquez, lahat umiiskor.”
Needing a counter, the Beermen relied on their big-time players to deliver in the clutch. Chris Ross and Arwind Santos provided the stops, Alex Cabagnot knocked down the game-tying jumper with 1.8 ticks remaining, and Fajardo provide the baskets — scoring 15 of his 25 points in the last nine minutes of the contest.
“Pulot-pulot lang. Binigyan nila ako ng nila so kailangan ko umiskor,” the 27-year-old big man said, deflecting credit to his teammates.
“Credit talaga sa teammates ko, ang ganda ng nilaro nila. Lalo na si Alex sa crucial shot niya.”
And with the challenge the Elasto Painters gave them, the 6-foot-10 anchor is now wary of the challenge Rain or Shine will impose come playoff time.
“Malakas yung team nila, malamang makapasok din sila sa semis,” the Cebuano shared.
For their part, the reigning two-time Philippine Cup champions need to stay focused and, as he always stresses, remain healthy both physically and mentally.
“Ito na yung crucial part. Kailangan healthy kami. Di puwedeng bababa ang laro namin sa playoffs,” said the league’s leading rebounder at 15.4 a game.