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PBA Commissioner’s Cup Semis Survival Kit: Rain or Shine vs Meralco

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It is no surprise that the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters finished with the top seed in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination round as they possess one of the best systems in the league.

Rain or Shine is the PBA’s no. 5 offensive team and it is largely due to ball movement. The team leads the league in assists per game (20.8) and is no. 2 in three-point field goal percentage.

With a dribble-drive offense, the Elasto Painters also hoist the most number of three-point attempts per game and also lead the league in three-point makes per contest. But it is in defense that makes Yeng Guiao’s troops an elite team in the PBA. Rain or Shine is the no. 2 defensive team behind Purefoods, allowing only 95.6 points per 100 possessions.

Opponents shoot only 40 percent against the Elasto Painters, and the squad allows the third-least three-point attempts, thanks to a bunch of quick perimeter defenders.

Three wins away from another finals stint, Rain or Shine will engage in a semi-finals showdown against a team that has been trying to enter the “elite teams” conversation: Meralco.

Under the tutelage of Norman Black, the Meralco Bolts went on a tear early in the Commissioner’s Cup, going on top of the team standings with a 5-0 slate (franchise-best start), but their campaign dwindled down the road, finishing only with a 6-5 record for fifth seed. Nonetheless, the team bounced back in the quarterfinals with a masterful showing in the series against NLEX where it outscored its opponent by an average margin of nine points.

Meralco showed it can also be an effective team when moving the ball well as the team assisted 38 of its 70 field goal conversions in two games.

But they are about to face one of the best teams in recent memory. Last season, Rain or Shine made the finals of two of the three conferences, and was a semi-finalist in the Commissioner’s Cup.

Key match-up

Gary David (18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 41.3 percent 3 PT FGs, 2.2 triples per game)Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times PBA Commissioner's Cup Semis Survival Kit: Rain or Shine vs Meralco

Gary David is Meralco’s best local. He leads the team in player efficiency rating (PER) and win shares. What does that mean? When he plays (and shoots) well, the Bolts win. David shot 48 percent from the field in Meralco’s six wins, and was only 39 percent in the five losses. However, this is Rain or Shine which features a ton of good defenders. David is effective without the ball so for him to dominate, Meralco must do a solid job of giving him opening.

Paul Lee (15.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.2 APG, 39 percent 3 PT FGs, 2.5 triples per game) Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times PBA Commissioner's Cup Semis Survival Kit: Rain or Shine vs Meralco

Paul Lee meanwhile is Rain or Shine’s best local scorer and (surprisingly) rebounder. He is one of the best guards at getting to the foul line. Against Meralco, Lee should be aggressive to give the Bolts defense a big problem.

X-Factors

Rain or Shine: Raymond AlmazanPhilippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times PBA Commissioner's Cup Semis Survival Kit: Rain or Shine vs Meralco

Almazan is averaging 16.5 PPG, 7 RPG on 63 percent field goal shooting in the Elasto Painters’ last two outings, both against teams with huge frontlines (Kia, Ginebra). Both games resulted into wins with the lanky big getting it done on both ends of the floor.

Meralco: Mike CortezPhilippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times PBA Commissioner's Cup Semis Survival Kit: Rain or Shine vs Meralco

The veteran playmaker’s numbers aren’t mind-boggling, but he is a plus-44 in the quarterfinals because of his effective quarterbacking on the floor. Cortez is one of the best readers in the league and in the semis, he must make great decisions while on the court.

Pick

Rain or Shine in 4. The Elasto Painters have an abundance of tools on offense to make it extremely hard for the Bolts’ defense. On defense, they have the size and versatility to counter Meralco.

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