#PBA2016 PHILIPPINE CUP PREVIEW: RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO-PAINTERS vs BLACKWATER ELITE - WHEN OPPOSITES COLLIDE

Currently, ROS and BLA are on opposite ends of the league standings. The Painters, despite coming off a loss, are still at the top shelf with a 3-1 card, while the Elite, after falling to the Beermen, are at 10th place with a 1-3 slate. 

ROS could have gone to 4-0 had they been able to survive GLO in their last contest, but their perimeter defense allowed the Batang Pier to salvage the game in the end. The Painters certainly want to bounce back here before they have a punishing stretch of games against BAR, GIN, TNT, and ALA.

BLA was hoping to get back-to-back wins in their previous game against SMB, but they weren’t up to the task. Like ROS, BLA is hoping to bounce back well in this game so they can move up from 10th place and be among the middle-of-the-pack teams. They’ll need a win here, too, as they have a very tough schedule awaiting them after this match — TNT, GLO, GIN, BAR, and STA are all up next. 




1. BIG BEAU’S BEST SEASON
- Beau Belga has always been a top-level center in the PBA, but he has been extra awesome this season, putting up his best numbers since entering the league in 2008. He’s a big reason ROS has gone 3-1 so far, and he can drop some major hurt on BLA if he goes unchecked.

Last game: 23pts, 5rebs, 2asts, 1blk, 3 triples, 70.0 FG%
Stats: 15.0ppg, 6.0rpg, 2.8apg, 2.5 triples per game, 50.0 3pt%, 50.0 FG%
*Belga is having his best season since entering the PBA in 2008.


2. JEFF & JERICHO: PAINTERS’ WILD WINGS
- Jeff Chan and Jericho Cruz have been very effective for the Painters so far this conference, and they need to continue being effective against the Elite here. What’s interesting is the rumors that Chan may be in the middle of a pending transaction with GIN. Will that be a distraction in this game? Nevertheless, Chan and Cruz should prove to be pretty tough tests for BLA’s wingmen.

Jeff last game: 17pts, 1reb, 2asts, 1stl, 58.3 FG%
Jericho last game: 15pts, 5rebs, 4asts, 2stls, 1blk

Jeff stats: 13.0ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.5apg, 1.5 triples per game, 37.5 3pt%, 45.9 FG%
Jericho stats: 11.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.3apg, 55.9 FG%


3. ROS: DEFEND THE PERIMETER
- ROS played pretty well in their last game against GLO, but they lost because they weren’t able to close out well on the Batang Pier’s perimeter players. ROS allowed GLO to shoot 34 times from beyond the arc, and the Batang Pier punished them with 15 three-point makes. ROS’s wing defense also hurt them in GLO’s final possession, where Pringle blew by his man and hit the game-winner.

Last game: ROS - 6/28 3pts, GLO - 15/34 3pts


4. ERRAM’S ERUPTION!
- JP Erram put up maybe the best game of his young pro career in BLA’s last game. The former Ateneo big man lit up SMB for 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 block while also shooting 11/14 from the field. He more than held his own against reigning MVP JMF, but he’ll need to play at least just as well to be able to give BLA a fighting chance against ROS.

Erram last game: 23pts, 8rebs, 1blk, 11/14 FGs
Erram stats: 13.0ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.3bpg, 63.2 FG%


5. COOL CAT IS BACK!
- Mike Cortez was once regarded as one of the most dangerous point guards in the country, but it seems age has caught up with him in the past few years. His production really dropped last season, which is one reason he was shipped to BLA, but based on his last two games, Cortez seems to have regained his moxie. Can he continue his great play against the Painters?

1st 2 games: 7.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.0apg, 30.0 FG%
Last 2 games: 13.5ppg, 5.0rpg, 5.5apg, 1.0spg, 54.5 FG%


6. BLA: KILLED ON THE GLASS
- Despite Erram’s huge game, BLA was still battered and bruised inside by SMB. June Mar Fajardo still put up a double-double, and the Beermen just killed the Elite on the glass. Right now, BLA is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, and that will have to change soon or their troubles won’t end. 

Last game rebounds: BLA 30, SMB 49
BLA: 45.8rpg - 11th in the league
BLA: 52.0 rebs allowed per game
*Rebounding difference of -6.2


7. KEY MATCH-UP: GABE NORWOOD X BAM GAMALINDA
- It’ll be defense vs offense in this match-up as defensive specialist Gabe Norwood tries to stop the dangerous Bam Gamalinda. Gamalinda had started the season slow before picking up his offense in the last two games, while Norwood remains and elite-level wing defender. The Fil-Am, however, has also been putting up very good numbers and has been playing his best basketball in a long time.

Norwood last game: 7pts, 3rebs, 4asts, 1 triple
Gamalinda last game: 14pts, 4rebs, 2asts, 1 triple, 5/9 FGs

Norwood stats: 8.3ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.3apg, 1.3spg, 1.5 triples per game, 54.5 3pt%, 63.2 FG%
Gamalinda stats: 9.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.3 triples per game, 50.0 3pt%, 36.4 FG%


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