WHAT THIS GAME MEANS
In boxing, whoever lands the first haymaker won’t necessarily be the one with his arms raised in the end. Same thing with basketball. Whoever wins Game 1 only has a one round lead. Don’t mind those bee ess stats that say 65% (just an example) of the teams that win Game 1 of a seven-game PBA series will go on to win the whole thing. That absolutely lacks merit and definitely has little to do with Petron vs. Rain or Shine. A win by either team means they have the upper hand, and that’s just it.
For both teams, this game will be about setting their own tones.
The Petron Blaze Boosters will look to establish June Mar Fajardo early vs. the Extra Rice bros in Game 1. I think that is how they will try to lead the series with and eventually dictate with. Obviously, that should be one of the biggest keys to the series for Coach Gee Abanilla and his studs. Because in terms of depth at the frontcourt, Petron is a little bit thin. But Fajardo’s domination in the paint shall cut the advantage in pounds and bodies that the RoS frontcourt have on them.
For Coach Yang Guiao and the Painters, Game 1 should be about dictating the tempo that they will play with throughout the series. See, RoS always plays fast. But in this one, they might have to go 7 Seconds or Less fast. That way, they will get looks at the rim while Fajardo is still trailing at midcourt. RoS guards playing pedal-to-the-metal basketball will also tire out Petron’s relatively shallow guard squad. Lassiter, Lutz, Cabagnot, and Ross share all the guard minutes for the Blaze Boosters, while you have seven key contributors from RoS at PG and SG.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Petron’s talented core vs. Rain or Shine’s depth
Petron’s main core of Fajardo, Santos, Lutz, Lassiter, and Cabagnot combine for 75 ppg. Compare that to 8 Elasto Painters averaging at least 7 ppg. This series is basically a clash between a team of All Stars versus a team of excellent role players — like the best in role players in the league.
WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR
Santos is quietly having a great Philippine Cup. Filling the stats sheet with 17.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, and 1.6 bpg, he’s really right up there with Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo in the Philippine Cup BPC race.
Now, it’s not like Jervy Cruz, Larry Rodriguez and Raymond Almazan will be easy pickings. But Santos has to show how much better he is than them. His solid play in this series will take away pressure from The Kraken.
Photos by Pranz Kaeno Billones of InterAksyon.com/InterAKTV