The Alaska Aces have the leading candidate for Best Player of the Conference, they’ve won the Comm Cup title in the past, and they have an amazing veteran import in Rob Dozier. They’re also one loss away from getting swept in the 2016 PBA Comm Cup Finals, and one loss away from handing the crown to the Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters, who have never won the title in this conference. Will ROS sweep this series, or will ALA survive to fight another day?
The Aces just cannot seem to catch a break in the Finals. They went up 3-0 in the PHL Cup last conference only to be on the wrong side of history after SMB won Games 4-7. Now the tables have turned and the Aces have to do what SMB did to be able to steal the title from ROS. It’ll be plenty difficult, though, given how ALA has lost its last 7 Finals games dating back to the PHL Cup and how well the Painters have been playing. For sure, Calvin Abueva and Rob Dozier both need to have big games for them to put up a good fight, while the supporting cast led by Chris Banchero, RJ Jazul, and Sonny Thoss have to deliver as well.
As for the Painters, everything seems to be falling into place, but they cannot be complacent, not after the Beermen showed last conference how possible it is to come back from a 0-3 series deficit to win the title. The frontline tandem of Pierre Henderson-Niles and JR Quiñahan proved to be too much to handle for ALA in Game 3. Now they hope to close out the series and try to win their first ever Comm Cup crown.
1. ALA: ABUEVA ARRIVES!
The Beast finally had his first great game of this series, but it was all for naught as the Aces sank into a 0-3 hole. He’ll need to muster his best in Game 4 for them to even have a sliver of a chance at extending this.
First 2 games: 11.5ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.0apg, 1.0spg, 36.0 FG%, 1/10 3pts
Game 3: 20pts, 8rebs, 6asts, 1stl, 0/3 3pts, 7/17 FGs (41.2%)
2. ALA: DOZIER DIGS DEEP!
Dozier has been consistently productive for Alaska in this series, diggin deep and trying to carry the team, but either he’ll need to drop a whale of a game or his supporting cast shows up in Game 4. Othewise, they’re done.
Game 3: 23pts, 8rebs, 4asts, 4blks, 1stl, 1 triple, 8/15 FGs
Finals stats: 27.3ppg, 10.7rpg, 4.0apg, 2.3bpg, 55.6 3pt%, 66.0 FG%
3. ALA: TOO LATE THE HEROES!
The Aces fell behind big in the first half in Game 3, and they just couldn’t completely overhaul it despite outscoring ROS by 19 points in the final period. Another slow start will doom them in Game 4.
First 3 quarters: 72 points (24 pts per period), 25/58 FGs (43.1%), forced 10 ROS turnovers total
4th quarter: 36 points, 13/26 FGs (50.0%), forced 11 ROS turnovers
4. ROS: JR QUINAHAN – FRIED RICE!!!
Quiñahan was scorching hot from long range, burying 4 triples en route to a team-high 18 points. This was a great bounce back from the Visayan big man, who struggled in Games 1 & 2.
First 2 games: 5.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0apg, 33.3 FG%, 15.0mpg
Game 3: 18pts, 2rebs, 4 triples, 6/10 FGs, 19min
5. ROS: PIERRE POWERS THROUGH!
Henderson-Niles netted a nice double-double, scoring in double-figures for the first time in the series. That’s a good sign for ROS, and if he can continue to be a serious threat on BOTH ends of the floor, this could end up in a sweep.
First 2 games: 7.0ppg, 13.0rpg, 1.5apg, 2.0spg, 50.0 FG%
Game 3: 11pts, 13rebs, 5asts, 3blks, 5/7 FGs
6. ROS: MAKING IT RAIN!
The rest of ROS also shot well. As a team, coach Yeng’s crew made more than 50% of their FGs, and they hit 15 threes throughout the contest. They lived up to their name, raining threes and shining brightly with a Game 3 win.
Game 3 3PT shooting:
3pt% – ALA 11/33 (33.3%), ROS 15/30 (50.0%)
Quinahan – 4/5
Cruz – 3/5
Chan – 2/5
Lee – 2/4
Series 3pt shooting:
3pt% – ALA 31/85 (36.5%), ROS 40/79 (50.6%
3pts per game – ALA 10.3, ROS 13.3
7. KEY MATCH-UP: RJ JAZUL X JERICHO CRUZ
Jazul has been ALA’s best performing local in this series, and he will have to continue that for them to have a shot at extending this series. On the other end, Jericho Cruz has been nothing short of stellar for ROS. He has taken a lot of scoring pressure off of veterans like Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, and Paul Lee, and he has really come into his own. If ROS goes on to win the title, Cruz has a good chance to be Finals MVP.
RJ game 3: 14pts, 3rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 4 triples
Cruz game 3: 17pts, 6rebs, 1ast, 3 triples, 6/11 FGs
RJ series: 14.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 2.0apg, 3 triples per game, 47.4 3pt%, 51.9 FG%
Cruz series: 16.3ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.7spg, 2.7 triples per game, 57.1 3pt%, 50.0 FG%