#PBA2016 COMMISH CUP PREVIEW: RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO-PAINTERS vs PHOENIX FUEL MASTERS - WE AIN’T NO FOOLS!

(Images from the PBA/Inquirer)

It’s April Fools Day today, but we won’t feature any fools in this match-up, not with quarterfinal spots at stake. With PHX only a game behind ROS in the team standings, this game will have significant implications in the race for the top eight. A win by ROS will tie them with GIN and TNT at 5-4 and really dampen the chances of PHX to make the quarterfinals, but a win by the Fuel Masters will pull the Painters down to 4-5 in a tie with the Hotshots and the Fuel Masters themselves.

PHX snapped a 2-game slump with a nice OT win over the Elite this past Wednesday. The Fuel Masters leaned on the double-double of import Kevin Pinkney as well as the big 21-point explosion of Mac Baracael off the bench. They will need much more of that here as ROS ranks among the toughest teams in the league. Winning here will also give PHX its first winning streak of the conference, and that’s a good thing since they have dangerous GLO and powerhouse SMB to close out the elims.

As for ROS, their 3-game winning run was halted by Tropang TNT in their last game. The Painters just couldn’t match TNT’s firepower in that outing, and that surely cannot happen again here against a PHX squad that is running high with confidence after slipping past BLA. Mo Charlo, JR Quiñahan, and Jericho Cruz also waxed hot for ROS in their loss to TNT, but they will need a bit more from other guys like Jeff Chan, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan, and the comebacking Paul Lee if they are to win here and gain some momentum heading toward their last two assignments: GLO and BLA. 


1. ROS: TRIPLE THREAT
- Charlo, Quiñahan, and Cruz all did really well for ROS in their previous game. This may signal a sort of changing of the guard for the Painters, who got very little from veterans like Lee, Chan, Tiu, and young big man Almazan. Still if the triple threat of Charlo, Quiñahan, and Cruz can hit on all cylinders again here, ROS should have the upper-hand against PHX.

Stats vs TNT:
Charlo - 22pts, 8rebs, 2blks, 5/10 FGs
Quiñahan - 25pts, 12rebs, 2stls, 4 triples
Cruz - 21pts, 4rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 2 triples, 7/13 FGs


2. ROS: THE CLAMPS ON CHAN
- Jeff Chan struggled big time against TNT, missing all 5 of his 3pt tries and finishing with a paltry 5 points in 25 minutes of play. For a guy highly-regarded as one of the best shooters in Asia, that kind of performance is unacceptable, and he should be raring to bounce back in a big way here against PHX.

First 7 games: 11.4ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.7apg, 1.9 triples per game, 41.9 3pt%, 48.1 FG%
vs TNT: 5pts, 2rebs, 1ast, 0/5 3pts, 2/9 FGs


3. ROS: HIGH-SCORING, LOW SHOOTING
- ROS is a bit of a paradox. They are among the highest-scoring teams in the league, but they are also among the worst in terms of FG%. It’s a strange combination that is mainly brought about by the fact that the Painters love to play fast, but at the cost of inefficiency. That could spell trouble for them against a dangerous team like PHX, and it’s surely something they have to address if the want to get far in the playoffs.

ROS Stats:
Scoring - 102.4ppg (#3)
Scoring allowed - 103.3PPG (#10)
FG shooting - 42.9% (#11)
FG shooting allowed - 46.0% (#8)


4. PHX: CALIBER 45
- Mac Baracael hasn’t been having a very memorable season, but in their win over the Elite, he stepped up big time. Baracael has always been serviceable, but if the man known as Caliber 45 can put up big numbers more consistently, the Fuel Masters will stand to benefit in a big way.

First 7 games: 8.1ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0 triple per game, 33.3 3pt%, 42.0 FG%
vs BLA: 21pts, 5rebs, 2asts, 2 triples, 9/14 FGs


5. PHX: SOLID NOT SPECTACULAR
- Import Kevin Pinkney hasn’t exactly been spectacular for the Fuel Masters, but he has surely been solid on both ends. He has put up double-doubles in 5 of his 6 games, and he will probably need to record another one here if PHX is to stand a chance against ROS.

vs BLA: 21pts, 16rebs, 1ast, 1stl, 3blks, 8/16 FGs
Stats: 23.7ppg, 14.2rpg, 1.8apg, 1.8bpg, 42.5 FG%


6. PHX: TEAMWORK WORKS
- One reason PHX was able to pull out a win against BLA was the fact they moved the ball well and maximized good team play. The Fuel Masters are actually among the top assists teams in the league as they assist on close to 55% of their made field goals. If they can continue that here, the Fuel Masters may just be able to pull the rug from under the Painters. 

PHX Stats:
Assists - 20.5apg (#3)

Asts vs BLA - PHX 31, BLA 15
Urbiztondo - 7asts
Garcia - 5asts
Lanete - 5asts
Monfort - 4asts


7. KEY MATCH-UP: JC INTAL X GABE NORWOOD
- Both of these guys have played for Gilas before, and both are among the most versatile players in the league. Intal seems to be the more productive offensive player, while Gabe is the more tenacious defender. It’ll be a nice contest of contrasts, and whoever can perform better should give his respective club a big boost.

JC last game: 19pts, 4rebs, 1ast, 1 triple, 7/11 FGs
Gabe last game: 8pts, 9rebs, 1ast, 2stls, 2blks, 1 triple, 3/10 FGs

JC stats: 12.8ppg, 3.6rpg, 1.8apg, 1.3 triples per game, 42.4 FG%
Gabe stats: 7.0ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, 1.1 triples per game, 33.3 3pt%, 32.7 FG%


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