PBA PhilCup QF Preview: Rain or Shine Elasto Painters vs. Global Port Batang Pier

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(2) Rain or Shine Elasto Painters vs. (7) Global Port Batang Pier

Limping Batang Pier face full-strength, peaking Elasto Painters with twice-to-beat advantage

Global Port management ultimately decided to expedite the youth movement for this team. Drafting three players in the top 10 and acquiring another via trade, this team sure looked like it underwent age-defying facelift in the Bello Medical Center. The management’s master plan was to combine all the young and potentially explosive talent they got from the draft with two of arguably the ten best players in the league in Sol Mercado and Jay Washington.

Of course with all the youth, one should expect an extended period for growing pains. But look out, with Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia converting well in the pros and with their young players contributing well (Chua, Salva, Hayes, Nabong), the Batang Pier have already done better than their fool’s gold of a start in last year’s Philippine Cup. If you told me before the start of the season that this team could’ve placed as high as the fourth spot if they were completely healthy, I would’ve thought you’re crazy.

This team settles for the seventh seed despite losing its best player towards the end. For that, they receive the gift of facing the surging Elasto Painters. RoS just might be the antitheses of Global Port. Coach Yeng Guiao’s team is the best example of deeeeeeep team while Richie Ticzon’s team is the yang, heavily counting on a small core.

If you thought, going into the season, that it would be impossible for RoS to get any deeper then you’re definitely wrong. The Elasto Painters sneakily scored big time in the draft, copping PBA-ready rookies in Almazan, Teng, and Nuyles. Those three have made the team deeper. Combined, their rookies put up around 15 points and 10 boards a night. Now that may not seem too much, but based on RoS standards, those numbers make a huge difference.

It’s just crazy how 14 players average double figures in minutes played. They just might be the deepest team in the history of pro basketball — no joke. And that ultimately speaks volumes of the management’s commitment to a deeeeeeep roster that features no superstars. This team just has it all except a true superstar on the level of a Sol Mercado that can score 15 points in a quarter and take over a game.

And that’s Global Port’s only advantage. They have the best player. In everything else, it’s a landslide.

KEY MATCH-UP

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Paul Lee (12.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.1 spg) vs. Terrence Romeo (13.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.9 apg)

For the Global Port Batang Pier to have a puncher’s chance, Terrence Romeo has to come close to his production in his first five pro games. With J-Wash out, Romeo has to discover the perfect balance between trying to put the ball in the hoop and playmaking for his teammates. We expect Sol Mercado to be the best player and the leader of this team. Romeo has to be Robin Hood. He has to put up All Star numbers next to Sol and out-duel Lee. If not, this might not even be a series.

On the flipside, Paul Lee just has to maintain what he did for Yeng Guiao in the eliminations. It’s as simple as that. Because if he tries to play heroball — he definitely doesn’t need to because they’re good enough as they are — he might disturb the perfect balance and harmony his team has been on during their live 7-game win streak.

X-FACTOR

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Kelly Nabong

No, I didn’t pull that one out of my ass. Medyo malalim ‘yung hugot, but hear me out. There’s absolutely no one from Global Port’s frontcourt that can come close to putting up the numbers that Jay Washington produces on the offensive side of the ball. So, for the Batang Pier to somehow make up on the point-differential department, their big men have to step up big time especially on defense. This quarterfinal match-up is the perfect stage for Nabong to shine. Control the defensive boards, play tough post D, and score in double figures; that’s what he needs to do against the deepest frontcourt in the league.

Sorry for putting you on the spot Kelly Berry.

PREDICTION

Rain or Shine. 1 game.

The Elasto Painters’ bigger nemesis, more than the Batang Pier, might be themselves. They’re going against a very young, inexperienced, and shallow team without its best player so the only way they will lose a game is if they take Global Port too lightly. They’re just too deep and complete for Sol and Co. RoS is 12-deep while GPBP is 6-deep. That’s including Eric Menk. Yun lang ‘yun.

 

Photos by Paolo Papa of InterAksyon.com/InterAKTV