2014 PBA Philippine Cup Finals Preview: A 1-on-1 Affair

Hoop Nut’s two writers share their different takes on the upcoming 2014 PBA Philippine Cup Finals. 

The format is simple: five questions, two points-of-view.

Lots of interesting ideas. Many will agree, even more will disagree.

It’s going to be fun.

ROS or SMC?



1. Why RoS will win? Why SMC will win?
Rolly: ROS because they have scoring balance and they rely on the whole team to contribute. Also, their fast-paced, uptempo, run and gun style could potentially give them a huge advantage over the Coffee Mixers who are coming from a grueling and tiring series while the Elasto-Painters were resting and recovering for a week. 

SMC because they can score in the paint (Pingris, Sangalang, DeVance, Reavis) and from the perimeter (Barroca, Yap, Simon, Mallari). They also force a lot of turnovers and steals which they convert easily.  

Enzo: ROS will take this because they are such a deep team with contributions coming from everywhere. They have versatile players at every position, and they play genuine “don’t quit” basketball. No lead is safe against the Painters.

SMC will win because they have been playing with a lot of heart, and they have an awesome coach in Tim Cone. In the semifinals, Cone generally outfoxed Ato Agustin, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some interesting tactical moves in store for ROS. 



2. X-Factors
Rolly: For RoS, it will be Gabriel Norwood. Any points that he contributes will be a big bonus, but his defense will be the key for RoS. Gabe will be expected to defend multiple positions, from James Yap, PJ Simon, Mark Barroca and maybe even Pingris and DeVance. 

For SMC, it will be "The Coffee Prince", Mark Barroca. It doesn't matter if he starts or comes off the bench, Barroca provides instant offense and defense (#1 in steals). He is also a playmaker (4.2 assists/game) who will try to find his teammates to get them more involved. 

Enzo: I agree with Norwood’s being ROS’s x-factor. His contributions don’t really show on the stat-sheet, but his defense and timely offense will be critical. If he can clamp down on guys like James Yap, PJ Simon, or even Joe Devance, then the Mixers will really bleed for points.

On the other end, I think the play of guys like Rafi Reavis, Ian Sangalang, and Rafi Reavis will really be critical. If those guys can put in a few good games (like the one Reavis and Sangalang had in Game 7), then I don’t think even Extra Rice, Inc. can do anything to stop the Mixers’ machine.



3. Best match-up:
Rolly: Jeff Chan versus James Yap. 
This could be a shooting duel between the two snipers. Both guys have three-point range but Chan is the better and steadier shooter from deep (42 of 105, 40%). 
Meanwhile, Yap can score anywhere on the court with his multitude of moves plus he can get hot from downtown just like Game 7 of the semis.

A secondary match-up will be Marc Pingirs vs Beau Belga. "Pinoy Sakuragi" has the advantage down in the low post but if "Extra Rice" consistently hits the outside shot, Pingris will be forced to stay on the perimeter. 

Enzo: Paul Lee versus Mark Barroca
Oh, man. This will be one to watch. You got two young, up-and-coming PGs who play contrasting styles. Lee loves to shoot and break his man down, while Barroca is tenacious on defense and loves making plays for his teammates. It’s gonna be interesting to see if Barroca can contain Lee and if Lee can shoot the lights out with Barroca all over him.

The Ping-Belga match-up should also be a lot of fun. You have two guys who love playing physical, “palitan ng mukha” basketball. Ping is great from about 10-13 feet away from the hoop, while Belga can stretch the D all the way beyond the arc. Get ready for some memorable bruising on both ends.



4. Who has the better coach? Why?
Rolly: Very hard question... Both coaches are excellent tacticians, and they won't hesitate to adjust their rotations and play guys who give them the best opportunity to win. In any case, I choose Tim Cone by the slightest of margins. I like his mostly calm demanour and he definitely gets fewer technical fouls than Yeng Guiao. Those extra FTs from techs could be the deciding factor in a close game. 

Enzo: The coaches have contrasting styles. Coach Yeng is more of a motivator who likes to spread the wealth and balance the playing time among his wards, while Coach Cone is the more analytical, “let’s break things down” kind of guy. He likes maximizing his team’s strengths and is great at making in-series and in-game adjustments. Both coaches play to what their respective teams do best, which is why the chess match on the bench should be as interesting as the war on the hardwood. In the end, however, my vote goes to Tim Cone.



5. Who will win the Finals? How about Finals MVP?
Rolly: This will be a long series. I think SMC will in in 7 games. I think they have more poise and composure. SMC will probably complain and whine less about no-calls than RoS. My Finals MVP will be Marc Pingris. I expect him to be a double-double machine. 

Enzo: Agree and disagree. I do think this will go all the way to seven games, but I think the Painters will be the ones surviving in the end. I think ROS has an advantage in Game 1 because they’re fresher, and I also think their depth affords them the flexibility and versatility to play well in every single game. I’m 100% sure AT LEAST one member of ROS will get ejected/suspended at one point or another, but I also think that will only serve to push the Painters to even greater heights. I am predicting that Raymond Almazan will have a couple of good games here to complement Extra Rice, Inc., while I believe Chan will prove to be more consistent than Yap. In the end, my Finals MVP will be Paul Lee, with coach Yeng’s crew winning in 7 heart-stopping contests.


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