PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — The chaotic defense of Jumbo Plastic-Basilan has been a formula proven, time and again, to deliver good results.
That suffocating full-court press defense catapulted the Peace Riders to a spotless 8-0 record in the eliminations, to earn an outright Mindanao Leg Finals berth in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup.
With the automatic slot in the title round, Basilan got a long break – 11 days to be exact – causing people to caution the squad about rust. The exact same thing that happened to Talisay in the Visayas Leg.
But the Peace Riders showed none of it in Game One, cruising past Petra Cement-Roxas, 81-69, to move on the verge of sweeping the leg at the Pagadian City Gymnasium here, Monday.
As usual, its hard press continued to be one of the deciding factors for Basilan.
In the elimination round, the Jumbo Plastic-backed squad topped most of the statistical categories.
They were the best offensive and defensive team there, scoring an average of 100 points while limiting their opponents to just 73 points.
Basilan also led the league in steals with 11 per game, translating to an average of 22 points off turnovers – another league-best.
Those interceptions also resulted in a league-high 20 fastbreak points per game.
The Peace Riders were still the same team they were in the eliminations come the Finals, still dominating those categories.
“That defense has always been part of my system even when I coach in other leagues,” said Basilan head tactician Jerson Cabiltes.
“Sa practice pa lang namin, we practice like that na talaga. Talagang full-court man-to-man defense.”
And it showed the fruit of it once more.
The Peace Riders forced 22 turnovers off Roxas, translating that to 24 easy points on the other end. They also ran away with the basketball a few times, nailing 20 fastbreak points while the Vanguards only had six.
More importantly, they locked up the leader of Roxas, MVP finalist James Castro.
Castro was held to just six points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field, to go with five rebounds, and two assists against four turnovers.
“Si James kasi is having easy baskets sa transition, nakaka-three points, nag-peak siya throughout the eliminations kaya talagang naka-focus kami sa kanya sa depensa,” said Cabiltes.
The Peace Riders look to repeat their magic again when they aim for a Mindanao Leg sweep today, 5 pm.
Source: Tiebreaker Times