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Norwood’s versatility helps Rain or Shine take series lead



Gabe Norwood is gifted with the length and athleticism which allows him to play almost every position with finesse — his passport to having one of the better careers in the PBA.

At 6-foot-5, Norwood possesses an above average wing span, agility, and strength enough to make him one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and even the national team.

With Raymond Almazan (sprain) out when Rain or Shine faced San Miguel in Game 3, the Elasto Painters needed basically everything Norwood can give.

With only three natural bigs left in the rotation — JR Quinahan, Beau Belga, and Jewel Ponferrada — Norwood played the power forward position in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the key difference in the game win by Rain or Shine, 111-106.

The Elasto Painters outscored the Beermen, 33-20 in the payoff period, as they stopped the latter by using defensive strategies.

In the lineup on the floor, Norwood took Marcio Lassiter or any of the Beermen shooters, while Paul Lee defended Arwind Santos. Though undersized, Lee has the heft to push Santos away from his spots.

Norwood’s length allowed him to offer help to June Mar Fajardo, who was taken by a Rain or Shine big, and still be able to recover should there be a kickout pass.

So the Elasto Painters’ defensive lineup did not have to rotate too much, and the result was the Beermen getting bothered and being unable to execute their plays.

“It makes us very versatile on both sides of the court,” Norwood said of the small lineup. “I think we just took advantage of that versatility. We have strong guards, we have tall guards, a lot of guys who can handle the ball.”

Norwood also got going offensively in the fourth period, hitting 11 of his 13 points. Such lineup allowed Rain or Shine to go four-out, space the floor, and open the lane for cutting bigs.

“I couldn’t make anything in the first three quarters, so it is just a matter of the percentages, and taking shots with confidence. That is what the coaches tell me,” Norwood shared.

The wing man said it was great timing for head coach Yeng Guiao to give him the minutes at the four, as they were badly needing more length to cover the paint.

“I think I just took advantage of mismatches that were working for us. I think coach Yeng picked up perfect time to put me in the four. For me, I am just taking advantage. We were just lucky enough to get to the basket and finish some plays,” he said.

With Almazan out for the rest of the series due to a sprain which shall require about two weeks of recovery, Rain or Shine will have to get the same defensive effort from Norwood and its bigs.

The team is fortunate enough to have Norwood continue to use his versatility to his advantage, helping his team succeed.

“Whatever needs to be done. If it gets to that point, right now we only have three bigs left, I am just trying to help those guys as much as I can and make their jobs easier.”

Videos courtesy of Sports5

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