Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NU-PBA Draft

Breaking News! Discarding nepotism and politics, adjusting to the times, adapting a more aggressive innovative role, the PBA announced that they are expanding to a total of 12 teams next year! In light of this development, the commissioner-not-named-Sonny added that with the new era in Philippine basketball there should be necessary changes for the league. The commissioner-not-named-Sonny announced a free-for-all free agency and the richest draft in league history to follow. The order has been set (for lack of creativity, the commissioner-not-named-Sonny decide to do it alphabetically via team name) and the teams have retained (or hired) their coaches.

Additionally, the commissioner-not-named-Sonny also said that the tournament (quadruple-round robin) is a “one-time deal” only. Meaning that after the season, everything will go back to normal and players will go back to their original teams (Much to the chagrin of the crowd present in the proceedings) Finally, the commissioner-not-named-Sonny made a slight tweak regarding league rules: Article 4.8B Suspensions – Player/s can now be suspended and fined by the commissioner’s office if that player/s suffers an injury throughout the season. Meaning, either players play through pain or just stop the acting and pretending that they have injuries. Ergo, it’s now “win now, baby” (as heard from the commissioner himself) time for most of the ball clubs. With the first pick of the PBA Dream Draft…

PG – Dennis Miranda/ Cholo Villanueva
SG- James Yap/ Bon Bon Custodio/ Gherome Ejercito

SF – JC Intal/ Larry Rodriguez
PF - Ranidel de Ocampo/ Mike Hrabak
C – Mick Pennisi/ Rob Reyes

PG – Jay Jay Helterbrand/ Marvin Cruz/ Egay Billones

SG – Junthy Valenzuela/Rodney Santos
SF – Tony de la Cruz/ Cesar Catli PF- Leo Najorda/ Allan Salangsang
C – Asi Taulava/Mark Isip/ Ervin Sotto

PG - LA Tenorio/ Chris Pacana / Macky Escalona

SG - Don Don Hontiveros/ / Denver Lopez
SF – Kelly Williams/ Ronald Tubid/ Jason Misolas
PF – Jay-R Reyes/ Willy Wilson
C – Sonny Thoss / Yancy De Ocampo

PG -Olsen Racela/ Topex Robinson/ Ronjay Enrile

SG – Cyrus Baguio/ Jojo Duncil
SF – Gabe Norwood/ John Arigo/ Chito Jaime
PF – Arwind Santos/ John Ferriols
C – Dorian Pena/ Junjun Cabatu

PG – Ryan Reyes/Jonas Villanueva/ Chico Lanete

SG– Mac Cardona/ Kelvin Dela Peña
SF – Gabby Espinas/ Sunday Salvacion
PF - Homer Se / Dennis Daa
C – Erik Menk / Adonis Sta Maria

PG – Alex Cabagnot/ Paolo Mendoza / Paolo Hubalde

SG – Willie Miller/ Jireh Ibañez/Magnum Membrere
SF – Nelbert Omolon/ Mark Macapagal
PF – Jay Washington/ Ricky Calimag
C– Carlos Sharma/ Rafi Reavis/ Mark Andaya

PG – PJ Simon/ Jeffrei Chan/ Celino Cruz

SG - Jeffrey Cariaso/ Chris Calaguio/ Jonathan Fernandez
SF – Jared Dillinger/ Larry Fonacier/ Melvin Mamaclay
PF - Mark Telan/ Norman Gonzales
C – Enrico Villanueva / Samigue Eman/ Lawrence Bonus

PG–Wynne Arboleda/ Roger Yap/ Christian Coronel

SG – Mark Caguioa/ Ronjay Buenafe
SF – Lordy Tugade/ Mark Borboran
PF – Harvey Carey/ Rich Alvarez C – Dennis Espino/ Kenneth Bono/ Paolo Bugia

PG - Mike Cortez/ Ryan Araña/ Warren Ybañez

SG – Gary David/Ren Ren Ritualo/ RJ Rizada
SF – Danny Seigle/ Yousif Aljamal/ Richard Alonzo
PF – Nic Belasco/ Eddie Laure
C– Ali Peek/ Marlou Aquino/ Beau Belga

PG – Jimmy Alapag/Paul Artadi/ Tyrone Tang

SG – Solomon Mercado/ Kelvin Gregorio/ Aaron Aban
SF – Mark Pingris/ Mike Holper
PF – Reynel Hugnatan/ Douglas Kramer
C – Kerby Raymundo/JR Quiñahan

PG –Jason Castro/ Donald Dulay/Froilan Baguion/Pong Escobal

SG – Joseph Yeo/ Rob Wainwright/ Aris Dimaunahan
SF - Niño Canaleta/ Wesley Gonzales
PF – Don Allado/ Jondan Salvador
C – Joe Devance/ Billy Mamaril / Alex Crisano

/Dream Rant

i am a sad story.

"Leaf by leaf, page by page. Throw this book away."

- Ben Folds Five in Smoke.

There is no rest for the wicked. Not even a soul to keep, and no more heart.

SMB Postmortem

After dissecting the guards play it’s now time to tackle San Miguel’s rotation on the wings and the paint.

Don Don Hontiveros – Just when we thought the loaded line-up of San Miguel has shattered much of Don Don’s swagger and confidence, the Cebuano guard made sure he finished the year with a bang--- that he did, first against Ginebra continued his mad streak against Talk N Text. Relatively inconsistent in the eliminations and sub-par (by Hontiveros standard) but quietly effective in that stretch, he stepped it up in the latter part of the season showing Siot and the rest of the Beermen fans why he is so oh-important to this team.

In game two versus the Kings, he scored 35 points then followed it up with 34 points in the clinching game. To rehash, in both these games the Beermen were trailing and none of these stats are the garbage-type of production. Then against TNT, he continued his scoring spree with a 39-point output in game three and being a constant number option all throughout the series not to mention defending the likes of Cardona, Alapag and Dillinger. Clearly, Don Don has become the most important and valuable player in the SMB camp right now. He is effective on both ends of the floor and a grizzled veteran that could replace Olsen as the on-court leader.

Lordy Tugade – Much has been said about “unfair” trades in the league where certain player X (serviceable) is shipped for player Y (a scrub)--- for economical reasons. With Tugade, not only they unloaded Tugade’s contract but they also traded a player who San Miguel thought could be a consistent contributor on both ends of the floor. Despite the numbers, Tugade has become sort of a black hole on offense and defense for the Beermen. Sure, the numbers are there (20 points or more thrice, double digit scoring 13 times in the eliminations) but he gets those numbers at such an ineffective rate. He attempted 139 three-pointers (44 made for 39 per cent) out of 272 total shots for the season meaning almost half of his shots are from beyond the arc despite the fact that he is a good penetrator (62 of 132 2FGM, or 47 per cent) and hits his freebies as well.

This lack of effort brings me to my point: why acquire a player that is redundant with one of your stars (Don Don)? Tugade can be effective in SMB’s system but he has to know his role on offense and should take more responsibility defensively. Provided that he had spotty minutes versus Talk N Text, but SMB was still competitive in those games despite his injury.

Danny Seigle – How things turn quickly. Three months ago this dynamite had zero capability to explode. Then the playoffs came, and boom! he’s was near to his old dominant self. After playing just 5 games (First three and last two) in the eliminations, Seigle reintroduced himself to the PBA fans with his knack for scoring the basketball. The much-maligned forward scored 16 points in 20 minutes in their first knockout game against Air 21 then followed it up nicely with over 10 markers and 4 caroms per outing in the best-of-three series against Ginebra. However, it was just the beginning of a nice ending to the conference for Danny S. He scored 29 points in game four and followed it up with 32 points in the overtime loss in the final game. He was even rebounding the ball grabbing 8 rebounds or more in half the games.

So the big question is… Is Danny Seigle really back? Maybe, maybe not. Such an unsure conclusion only mean that San Miguel SHOULD aggressively trade him now. Try to ship him (and his contract) when his value is at an all-time high (at least during the injury days) and the campaign for a Trade-DS idea should start now. Getting a young prospect is the ideal situation, but a couple of (high) picks will do as well. The real question remains, how loyal is SMB to a (once) franchise player like Seigle…

Marc Pingris – If not the injury to Dorian Peña, Pingris would never have gotten off the bench consistently in the playoff round specifically in the TNT series. As SMB went small (Pingris played the PF spot most of the time), he produced not surprisingly some eye-popping numbers. He scored in double digits four times (11,11 in the first two, and 28 16 in the last). However, it was in the rebounding end that he can be most appreciated. In the last 5 games he grabbed at least 7 boards including a 12-rebound effort for a double-double in Game Five.

Much has been said already of Siot’s benching of Pingris in the final minutes of the final game. All under the bridge now, but Siot should wake up and smell the coffee: Ping brings energy to the table. To do that, he has cut minutes with the other bigs (clue: DS) to give Pingris his rightful consistent time on the court.

Jay Washington – Similar to Pingris but much more addicted to the outside shot is J-Wash. The Fil-Am had solid minutes for the entire year (14.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 1.1 BPG) but it was against Talk N Text that he really played his best. Vengeance errr.. versus his former team he upped those averages to 19.6 PPG, 11.6 RPG and 1.4 BPG. Ok, there was that missed easy lay-up in game six that could have changed the complexion of the ending or the ill-advised threes here or there (just a 30 per cent shooter from beyond) or a needed improvement from the line (49/79 FT’s, or 62 per cent).. But clearly the package of a versatile forward is there for the run and gun system of Siot.

Dorian Peña – The monster rebounder was badly missed by the Beermen against the Texters. He did play two games in that series but was very ineffective in very limited minutes. While a very bad free throw shooter (Just above 56 per cent), his real value comes from eating the glass either offensive or defensive. He is also quite effective against smaller defenders as well (Please, don’t foul him) and is quite potent inside the paint. To a run and gun team, a rebound starts everything. To a run and gun team, wild misses are expected. Peña is quite effective in starting the break (defensive rebounds) and re-starting an offense (offensive rebounds).

Mick Pennisi – Another new acquisition this year is the Pennisi. The formerly very hated, now just a little hated center from Red Bull has been serviceable to say the least for SMB. Unlike Peña, he is more comfortable playing outside and is one of the few centers in the league that can hit the 3 point shot. But at what cost? This year, Mick took 144 three-pointers and made 44 of them--- respectable at a 33 per cent clip. On the rebounding end, he’s done as nicely as well at 7.2 per game. Again, the question at what cost? Height is might but he shouldn’t be taking too many three pointers. In a team that features already high-volume shooters from the perimeter, do you really need another player (who is supposedly a big man) to take those shots away? Does he fit the system? Probably, to an extent. But will a Dorian Peña type of player be a more fit and be more valuable to SMB? Probably so.

Other players in the team are Wesley Gonzales and Kenneth Bono who played sparingly in the playoff rounds and the eliminations. Both players showed they can be effective when given the minutes. Then, there are the likes of Chris Calaguio, Eman Samigue and even Danny Ildefonso waiting on the bench.

Conclusion: What’s the final deal, then? Who stays? Who goes? First, lest we forget Siot Tanguincen did a horrible job in the TNT series (and a number of games in the eliminations) but we should also remember that this is the same coach who stuck to his troops when the going got tough (Later part of the elims when SMB was struggling, then the pair of wild card games and the comeback victories against the Kings). The point here is, he is still a young coach who is just learning the ropes (albeit the hard and painful way)… Much like this SMB team. Give him another shot (another conference), after all, a third or fourth place finish is still respectable (albeit painful to accept)

For the Fiesta Cup an important-laden tournament here’s a proposal for Siot and how he should handle the rotation (For the management, omitted players should mean they should have been traded before the conference even begins)

PG – Villanueva/Custodio (Cortez/Baguion)
SG – Hontiveros (Calaguio)
SF – Pingris/Gonzales (Tugade/Seigle)
PF – Washington/Bono (Ildefonso)
C - Peña/Eman (Pennisi)

Whilst the PG lineups looks thin (Again, Baguion is replaceable but the team do need a respectable third string guard if anyone gets injured) and Custodio can be paired in the back court with Jonas, there might be a need to find a second (real) point guard. A deal for Seigle (or Tugade, only one should go if no quality players are taken in return) can net a good guard that can play the point. Handling the paint job are Washington and Pena (and when he slides to the four, Pingris) but there is now the need to develop the likes of Bono and Eman even further with the aging players in Pennisi, Ildefonso and Seigle. Even if no trades are made, it is vital for San Miguel to start inserting them in the rotation or the selection of Eman and trade for Bono will just look like wasted efforts. Ideally, this should what the team depth chart and rotation look like (*Again ideally, the import must be able to slide to the 2-spot, meaning he has to have ball handling skills; Another option is get a natural SF import but that can be redundant with the likes of Washington/Pingris already)

PG – Villanueva/P G*/ Custodio/3rd-string PG
SG – Hontiveros/Custodio/Calaguio/Gonzales/IMPORT
SF – IMPORT/Pingris/SF**/Gonzales/ Hontiveros
PF – Washington/ /Pingris/Bono/
C - Peña/Pennisi/Bono/Eman/
* netted from a Seigle/Tugade trade
** Who ever is not traded between Seigle/Tugade

And the system? More run and gun!

Monday, January 26, 2009


After a wild and wooly, up and down year, the season has ended for the San Miguel Beermen in the PBA All-Filipino Conferece after losing to the loaded Talk N' Text Tropang Texters in six games. Who takes the blame and who should get the axe. Who impressed and who should stay. Who deserves to be in the team and be retained. Here's a quick look on how the key players performed this year and if they should stay or be cut, traded, or benched for the next conference:

Olsen Racela - Much has been said about Olsen's capability to lead and even be moved to a more prominent role in the coaching staff of the Beermen. That time is now and it's best for him and the team for Olsen to retire. However, there is too much of pride for players to do so and i don't think he can easily walk away from the game especially after a rather bad performance against TNT. If he decides to make another run at it, one conference should be enough and should be in limited minutes (around 10). Retiring (Or suggesting, forcing him to) will just mean that the management has gained enough confidence to fully trust the young guys.

Why retire now? While Olsen showed flashes of brilliance this year (Elims vs. AIR 21: 15 poiints, 9 assists in 34 minutes|Elims vs. GINS: 18 points, 6 assists in 24 minutes) there are a few signs that the point guard's play is now going down especially in the Talk N Text series. He failed to crack double digits scoring and shot 9 of 30 from the field. Moreover, he struggled mightily against Jimmy Alapag.

In the long run, offensively, he can still be effective. However, it is on defense that he will be a weakness.
Pass the torch, it's time.

Bon Bon Custodio - There is no player in the SMB line-up that was both much-maligned and much-praised this conference. That is what you basically get with a rookie and a player like Bon Bon. In the eliminations, he scored 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting against Alaska; Then in a game vs Rain or Shine, he dished out 10 assists. He can hit the three albeit inconsistenlty (12 of 47 for the season, or just above 25 per cent); and gets in the passing lanes at times although he still needs to work harder defensively (6 steals once, and 4 takeways thrice for the season)

The surprise of the draft has lots of things left to be desired but the potential of being an above average contributor is there, and pushing it a bit, even to superstar level. With rookies, you take the good with the bad. With Bon Bon, you just hope he matures faster and improves the basics further so as to become an effective player in this league. With the way he was given minutes and responsibilities, that could come sooner than later. There could be deals available out there, but in the end, his rookie contract will be cheaper than most and

Jonas Villanueva - With all the changes in the line-up and all the marquee players arriving at the SMB camp, he was the odd man out in the rotation. But when the going gets tough (injuries) he had to be called upon and he, in some ways, delivered. Not bad for a third-string point guard (even fourth, if you are counting Bon Bon as a PG). His minutes during the eliminations had been sporadic; he scored in double digits four times, but scored 5 points or lower 11 times. As court general, he doled out 6 or more helpers five times and did not fail to register at least 1 assist but one time all throughout the season.

However, during the Talk N Text series (and last game vs. Ginebra) Jonas, in a sense, was a revelation when given consistent minutes (and responsibility). Against Ginebra, when Olsen was thrown out, he logged in just 14 minutes but scored 7 points on 3 of 4 shooting from the field. Against TNT in game one (still without Olsen), he scored 5 points but had 8 assists in 25 minutes. In game two and five, both wins, he averaged 9 points and 4.5 assists in 23.5 minutes. And even in the last three losses, he scored at least 7 points and at least 2 assists per outing.

Which leaves us to...

Mike Cortez - Up until this point i still can not understand the trade to Alaska (LA Tenorio mainly). While at first glance, Cortez could be the better defensive player (the idea was that LA was a lot smaller and Cortez bigger and bulkier) the latter is just not that efficient offensively. While it is difficult to evaluate an oft-injured player, his style of game does not fit SMB's run and gun attack at all. In four games before he got hurt, he never cracked double digit scoring (conference high is 8 points against his former team) and was scoreless in his last two outings (0/6 vs. ROS, 0/5 vs TNT). Again, there is not much use in analyzing small-sized samples especially because of injuries. But why risk with players that are often injured? And why risk waiting on them when at first they don't even fit the system? There will be no takes for Cortez in trades obviously, but the first step is not including him in the long term plan for the sake of the team and the development of other players in his position.

Froilan Baguion - No need for numbers here. But as a third-string point, he can be servicable on spotty minutes.

In an ideal world, Olsen retires and Cortez is traded which brings San Miguel's point depth down to 3 players. Is Villanueva ready to take over as a starting point guard? Is Custodio ready for heavy minutes at the point? i do like to believe so. SMB won't get a quality starting point guard via trade or free agency and the best way is to continue to develop this pair of point guards.

PBA Semis: SMB Folds in Six

i failed to update the stats and some of this series. Mainly because of two reasons; a) after falling down 3-1, i felt SMB had zero chances at a comeback win after coming from behind since the wildcard phase and b)i am just biased, sort of a sore loser when i am down thus uninspired.

But heck, for pahabol effect and last night's frustrating and painful loss to TNT there's this poster at who made a battle for third thread... which led me to this reply

Pepman, oh pepman. A battle for 3rd thread? Is this really necessary? Your "bright" idea has inspired me though;
Pepman, oh pepman
by DT

Let us lick the fresh wounds,
and sulk in a depressed corner
Let us forget the one point loss,
and that Cardona dagger

Leave us time to hate Bon Bon,
ill-advised fouls, ill-timed shots
Leave us time to analyse this one,
his basketball IQ that rots

Let us forget Don Don and Danny
their efforts gone to waste
Let us forget Peek and Carey
eating glass, in our mouths leaving a bad taste

Pepman, oh pepman
do you post threads at random
Pepmen oh pepman
how we wish you post seldom

(Ok, must be the boredom and losing. Imagine if we'd won the series.)

And oh, congrats to Talk N Text, they were the better team and deserves to be in the Finals against Alaska.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

PBA Semis: TNT Breaks SMB's Back. Again.

For while there, it looked like a replay of Game Three. There was the Mighty Mouse showing his, errr, might from the three land in crunchtime, again. (J. Alapag: 18 points and 10 assists. 16 markers were done in the fourth including a pair of three's from the parking lot. (M. Cardona: 18 points and shaking off the blues called the boos. Including his patented teardrop-hook from afar, near the three point area) There was the slew of Texters who made the right (clutch) plays to bring TNT closer to the All-Flip Finals. And oh, let's not forget the TNT rookie who was off to a hot start for the Texters. (J. Dillinger: 27 points, career-high, 4 of 7 from beyond. Including 16 or 18 in the first quarter)

Then there was Bon Bon Custodio for a boo boo or two that could have changed the complexion of the game for his team.

Oh fuck and oh well. San Miguel is just plain tired now (not an excuse but a fact) and credit the Texters for pushing the right buttons at the right time. i am not sure if they still have enough for more "comeback" victories--- lots of them in this series, and the quarterfinals against Ginebra. Down 1-to-3? Ugh. i am struggling to find the heart to bounce back on this one. i wonder how the SMB players feel.

Monday, January 19, 2009

PBA Semis: TNT Steals Game Three for 2-1 Edge

Game 3: TNT 110, SMB 106

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. After a ho-hum opening games--- one was a blowout, the other a rather expected victory--- the TNT-SMB series upped the semifinals fever with a classic game three which might as well be the best game of the series.

The series was described as a match made in heaven and it showed in the third installment. Good games are dictated by good match-ups. And when you have endless supply of offensive players, surely you'll have nonstop, end-to-end action at some point... And th
at was exactly what happened at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

Don Don Hontiveros was especially hot, shooting 8 of 12 from the three-land which included some quick-trigger attempts which speak volumes of his range, and confidence. The Cebuano finished with a career-high 39 points in 39 minutes. To boot, he added 9 rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. Not a bad game until...

Jimmy Alapag showed up. The spitfire guard scattered 22 points but none bigger by a string of baskets at the end game. Clearly now, TNT has realized that he is their leader--- either by scoring or helping his teammates--- and that they should run the plays through him to win this series. Alapag though knows he can't do it alone...

Ranidel de Ocampo hit a big three to steal the lead some time in the last two minutes... Harvey Carey and Ali Peek crashed the glass all night long stealing offensive rebounds and willingly and ably
converting them. Somewhere, Dorian Pena's foot is still hurting--- and hurting San Miguel inside.

Despite the heroics of the abovementioned players there were some who faltered--- either by pressure, lack of composure or simply, lack of experience... Experiencing some or all of that were...

Mac Mac Cardona. Booed and bothered in Game Two, then booed and bothered in the next as well was not his usual self. Give credit to San Miguel fans (around 9,000 of 'e
m) for this strategy. Clearly, Captain Hook was out of his zone because SMB fans decided out of the blue to hate him. Welcome to the pro league, Mac Mac. If you are not with us, you are against us--- that's the clear message from the fans. Sure, the La Sallite earned some hate during his UAAP wars--- but he was at a loss because at least in college they have their reasons to abhor him, but in the pros? Overnight, you become the enemy because that is what it is.

Then, there was the Bon Bon Custodio shot at the end game. Playing practically like an experienced veteran in previous games and series, the former UE stalwart found himself hitting the rookie wall (Also called Mountain Peek) with a rather questionable, rather ill-advised and rather bad shot that could have tied the ball game and sent it to overtime. Key word: could have.

What could have been the better decision was to find a way to find Don Don and ride his hot streak, after all the latter had 39 points at the point. i love Siot's confidence and trust with the rookie--- in the long run that pays dividends. But this was a situation when that decision haunted him. With rookies, you get some and you lose some. Too bad really that this one was a big loss. Key phrase: i'd take a Don Don missed three to end that game--- it's destiny. But no, Bon Bon decided to align his stars...



While San Miguel looked the hotter team for the evening, it was Talk N’ Text which shot the ball better at 48.8 per cent clip. Blame this one with the likes of Carey and Peek getting easy putbacks. San Miguel had a chance to up the lead multiple times in the last 5 minutes (and even the entire game) but the big men of TNT was just up to the task of abusing SMB downlow without Pena and Washington.

Both teams actually had trouble taking care of the ball as they turned the ball over 39 times. San Miguel being the more aggressive on the passing lanes with 9 steals compared to TNT’s 2 takeaways. Both teams took advantage of that as well with San Miguel converting 19 points off TO’s and TNT, 20.

Why did San Miguel lead for most part? Because they were more aggressive to the hoop earning 43 foul line shots and converting 86 per cent of those shots. Meanwhile, TNT just went to the line 24 times though they made good out of it converting 19 of those shots.

How did Talk N Text win the game? While San Miguel (particularly, especially maybe even exclusively Hontiveros) was shooting the lights out early on, they faltered in the last few minutes of the outing. On the other side of the coin, TNT was starting to hit (clutch) shots featuring Alapag and a little bit of Ranidel. Not to mention (and repeating for emphasis) that Carey and Peek were constantly inside the paint turning garbage into gold. Defensively, it showed that TNT can adjust when in dire straits. They forced Hontiveros into some forced shots in the latter part
and sent the help necessary during post-up plays and penetrations--- the defense on Bon Bon in the last play was just the icing on the defensive cake.

(Series stats - Click image for larger version)

What to expect in Game Four? This is getting redundant now: more and more of the same. Both teams did not leave their three point shooting behind--- a primary weapon they believe. But at the same time, it’s the teams that does the little things called offensive rebounding and forced turnovers (steals) that will decide the outcome of the series eventually. Game One, TNT jumped on the Beermen. Game Two, SMB decided to match that energy. Game Three, TNT was more aggressive inside. Game Four… More and more of the same.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

PBA SEMIS: Beermen Bounce Back

Game Two: San Miguel 112, Talk N Text 103

After the TNT thrashing of SMB in Game One it was important for the latter to bounce back and avoid the 0-2 hole and that they did by dominating some of they key stats vital for this series. If you will notice the usual suspect stats standout namely free throw shooting, turnovers, points off turnovers and fastbreak points. All of which were won convincingly by the victorious team. Curiously, the three point shooting (made and percentage) and rebounding (with offensive) went to TNT but still they found themselves at the losing end.


San Miguel attacked the basket the entire evening earning 32 trips to the 4.5 meter line and converting 75 per cent of their shots. TNT, meanwhile just converted 13 shots in 19 attempts. To note, rookie Bon Bon Custodio went to the line 10 times while making 90 per cent of the freebies.

If there is any indication on how SMB made their adjustments from game it was how they valued the ball on this one. From a 23-turnover output in the first game they cut down their errors to 13 for this game. Moreover they showed more hustle on the defensive end by forcing 21 turnovers (Texters had only 12 in game one) and converting 29 points off those errors.

Despite not winning on the boards, San Miguel was still able to run because of TNT’s turnovers. SMB had a +24 advantage on fastbreak points which speaks volumes on how to beat a good offensive team like TNT. Probably, the best defense against this squad is offense, putting them in the heels and running at them. SMB’s 28 FB points is an improvement over their 13-point output in game one while TNT’s 4 points on the break could not buy them the easy baskets.

More and more of the same. Meaning both teams will continue to run their offense at a fast pace. TNT, by virtue of their dominant game one performance now average 116 points per game in this series. San Miguel in the meantime isn’t far behind at 106 per game. Both teams are having a conscious effort to emphasize their offensive might with San Miguel attempting 85 shots per game and TNT at 75.5 per. Sure, who cares about the field goal percentage, eh? In the Philippines, there is the saying, the more shots you take, the more chances of winning…. Or something like that.

As both teams start to clamp down on the defensive end (Yes, despite the fact that they are offensive machines they still play respectable D) the pace will be relatively slower and games will be won whoever shows more effort on defense.

San Miguel made their adjustment in game two by stopping the perimeter and doubling on the penetration. TNT meanwhile has just realized that SMB is a capable defensive squad and they need to realize that ball movement is the key in upending that. With that in mind they also realize the need to attack SMB inside and on the break even more-- going to the free throw line and converting them and attempting more fastbreaks can get them easy baskets.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

PBA Semis: TNT Explodes in Game One

Game One: TNT 129, SMB 100

Andy Jao was on the dot all night long emphasizing the fact that SMB is trying to be the first wildcard team to go all the way to the Finals... That should take it's toll, he says. And immediately it showed in game one of this series.

More than anything it's not an excuse but just a plain fact. A fact that TNT took advantage of. Moreover, you have to credit Talk N Text for knowing what to do right off the bat and that is what practically what they did. Chot Reyes knew that they had to take advantage early and they did that by pressing the Beermen in the first quarter and never really letting up.

This is the price of having an inferior record--- you'd have to go through the wildcard phase then the quarters against tough teams (one was called Ginebra) and this is the prize of clinching an automatic semis slot--- you'd have all the rest in the world at the same time scouting the opposition in multiple games. Make that multiple do-or-die games, meaning that is practically the team's make-up and patterns, rotations and match-ups.

Again, credit Chot, his scouting staff and his players how they executed the plan to perfection. Run San Miguel down early and use their offensive might because San Miguel might fold due to lack of legs and that is exactly what happened. This is a game where most of the numbers will be deceiving because after all this is a blowout. Nonetheless here are a few key numbers from that game:

One of my key stats pre-series was both team's three point shooting. Obviously, the Texters did an excellent job in the very first quarter of the very first game of this series. At some point they were shooting at a 9-of-12 clip in the first half! The turnover story also favors Talk N Text, just another clear cut stat to show how Talk N Text dominated San Miguel in Game One.


So what now? Is the series over and will Talk N Text continue their dominance? No and no. At some point Siot will make the adjustments on how to defend the perimeter and how to attack Talk N Text just to make their scorers defend. Here are a few of the adjustments i believe Siot should apply for San Miguel to get back in this series:

+ More Man-Zone. A 3-2 pressing zone would put pressure on the perimeter. The danger of course is when the likes of the Carey and Peek start finding the holes for the offensive rebounds and even easy penetrations. However, i don't think TNT big men can be effective entire game long (as opposed to the hot hands of their shooters) This type of defense will also discourage iso's from spitfire Jimmy Alapag who can break down any of the SMB guards.

+ Ride Washington, Seigle. There was just too much Harvey Carey all over the floor in game one especially defensively. Carey, in my opinion was the best player of game one. For San Miguel, they know that this is Carey's role now and that is to stop the SF/PF of the Beermen and at the same time helping out on defense when there's a penetration (Custodio particularly)... San Miguel should attack him and force him into foul trouble and fatigue (ok, this is Carey but he has to get tired as well), meaning they should just bring it to him.

+ Stop the turnovers, pleaze. If San Miguel thinks they can be careless with the ball and win (wildcard and vs. Ginebra), they better think again. Unlike Ginebra, TNT is a team that has multiple options on offense that more likely than not they'd take advantage at the other end.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First up, numbers generally don’t lie but they don’t tell the entire story so take it for what it’s worth. The numbers above are the statistics for both squads when they met twice earlier this conference. San Miguel took game one, 84-77 and Talk N Text bounced back in the redo with an 85-80 win. Here are the three (and some) key categories which will define this best-of-seven series:


In their first meeting, San Miguel had the big edge in rebounding (83-53) and had a +10 advantage on the offensive glass as well converting 21 second chance points, eight more than the Texters. Despite have more than 10 turnovers, San Miguel was able to get extra points on the boards that help bring them the W. IN the return match at Singapore, it was the Texters who had the edge in the offensive rebounding department (21-16) converting 14 second chance points compared to San Miguel’s 6, a measly effort compared to their output in the first meeting. It did not help that San Miguel again had problem taking care of the ball (24 TO’s) even as TNT did their share in containing their errors (12)


Curiously, despite shooting just 13.8 per cent from beyond the arc and generally having a bad shooting night San Miguel still won in the first game. Why? Because TNT shot even worst from three-land (Made just 10 in 48!) and the field as well (29.5%) But will they leave the three point land? I don’t think so. To an extent both teams live (and die) by the three-ball. Whoever shoots better and find their rhythm early will have the advantage.


The irony is this: for a couple of teams that falls in love with the outside shot they are actually more effective when they attack the basket and fish for fouls. In San Miguel’s victory they went to the line 18 times and succeeded in making 66.7 per cent of their foul shots. TNT did attack the hoop and finished with 22 FTA however they could not capitalize and just made half of those shots. Meanwhile, in the second game it was TNT’s turn to take advantage from the line. They shot just 63 per cent but went from the 4.5 meter line 30 times while San Miguel was better (73%) they could only muster 15 FTA. Clearly, whoever attacks the hoop and is the more aggressive team will get their time at the line--- and they should take advantage.

CONCLUSION: Both teams practically use the same fast-pace style but at the same time attacks the offensive glass--- meaning the easy fastbreak and 2nd chance points will be vital to this series. The hot (or cold) hand from beyond will likely define which team would have the advantage and the shooting from the free throw line will most likely provide the difference.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just In: The PBA is Scripted

(Brought about my a number of forum posters who just don't enjoy the game like they should)

To all the so-called "fans" of the PBA who thinks the game is rigged i pity all of you.
The moro-moro Ginebra-San Miguel series did feature moro-moro incidents according to the plainly stupid posters. That said, here are your moro-moro interviews n my goddamn fictional mind because some of you think it's g0damnscripted:


+ Moro Moro Superstar Hontiveros - From Don Don: "i had back to back career games to end this fictional series. Damn right, i played the (scripted) role to the hilt that i decided to bring his A+++ game and lead my squad to two improbable comebacks (i decided to lose the game on our first try but really dug deep for the second one just for show)

+ Jay Jay's Heart. Helterbrand thoughts during the series: "i will show everyone i can carry this team even without my partner-in-crime Mark and prove to everyone i can indeed carry a team on my own. F^ck the so-called injuries my team plays with heart and we know how to play defense and push this SMB team to the limit. But oh wait, i won't do much in the second half of game three because it's not according to the so-called script by the most knowledgable, respectable and righteous PBA fans because according to them, it's all in the family, right? So despite my best efforts i will will my team to lose sometime in the end inspite of the fact that i willed my team to win 80 per cent of the time in this series. All for the respect to my beloved knowledgable, respectable and righteous fans."

+ Rookie of the series, Bon Bon - "Hirap din talaga kami sa Ginebra. Pero nung game two panalo kami nun. Nagtimeout na lang para matechnical kami tapos may extra point sila at para mahirapan naman kami sa game-winning possession sana namin. Pero sabi ni Don Don sa game three na lang daw namin tapusin kasi papalamangin namin sila ulit nang malaking double digits tapos comeback na lang ulit kami. Nagpromise sya na makaka-three points sya ng anim (on above 50 per cent shooting daw) kaya ok lang na matalo sa game two. So yun.

+ Olsen Racela- leader - "i stuck my foot out on JJ's jumpshot just for fun. i was told by the commissioner that i'd be kicked out of the ball game 5 minutes before the game and thought why not try something i have never done before just so my fans will be surprised. i am the unquestioned leader of the squad so i'd like to see them react and see if they can step up without myself inside the court. And what do you know, they just did. i was laughing all along inside the locker room when Ginebra had the 21-point bubble because i knew we'd (without myself) make that improbable run in the fourth quarter. i am liking this image better so maybe i'd stick my foot out once again in the TNT series. Just for fun."

+ Siot Tanquincen: "i always knew i am lightyears behind Jong in coaching in the PBA. i field in weird and questionable rotations all throughout becuase i don't actually understand coaching. Moreover, i don't even understand the game. So what i did was field in random players from my bench. Whoever was smiling at me when i look at them during the games i put them inside because i really like nice and positive kind of players. Thank goodness Don Don was smiling all the time in that best of three. Danny Seigle and Bon Bon was really the pair that had the most perfect smile during that stretch. So much so that i decided to go with the despite the fact that one is an aging and hurting veteran and the other is just a greenie who has the reputation of selling some of his games. But so what, i liked their smile so i put them in. And regarding the comeback games? My favorite number is 21 so i said to the team to start playing their game only when Ginebra reach that 21 point bubble. This is God's plan."

+ Cabatu - "Medyo nahirapan din ako sa script mo. Imagine sabi ni coach tirahin at ipasok ko daw yung tres ko sa game two matapos ipasok ni Don Don ang isang three points na napakalayo. Pero dahil nga nasa script (at ayaw ko naman matanggalan ng trabaho sa pelikulang to) inayos ko na din yung stroke ko at yun pumasok nga."

+ Mamaril - "Pareho kay Jun Jun, mahirap din yung role ko. Pinapagacareer ba naman ako ni Coach Jong! Pero ok lang hamak naman na masmagaling ako kaya Papa sa basketball--- kasama nga pala yan sa script para lang may pagusapan ang tao tungkol sa father-son players sa PBA.


SO THERE, hope everyone is happy now that i got these exclusive interviews from some of the key players in that series.

SMB: From the wildcard to the 'ship?

Miracle of miracles. In the Philippine Basketball Association, the San Miguel Beermen erased a 21 point lead in the second half to steal game three and the quarterfinal series against rival Ginebra Kings. This was the second time in three days that SMB dug a double-digit hole and came back (They almost won in game two) Never say die? It's more like, never say never...

Next up, it's the automatic semis qualifiers Talk N Text Phone Pals. The Kings-Beermen match-up was a classic and yet i feel that this best-of-seven series will outdo the previous one...

That being said, here are a few unsolicited pointers for San Miguel if they want to play for the championship:

+ Know Your Identity. Stick with it, shove it to TNT's face and use it to the hilt. And that means running, running and more running. Obviously, both squads have high-powered offenses to brag about and their depth, something really to drool at. That said, it's about the Beermen sticking to their newfound glory in the oldschool fast pace offense. Like any plan it's always double-edged. Against the potential of the TNT squad, the plan to run could very well blow up on their own faces. But the real key here is sticking and believing with the system--- a system that obviously worked in the wildcard phase and just recently agains the Kings in the quarterfinal round.

+ Wing for the Win. Ride Hontiveros' hot streak... And to an extent trust Bon Bon even more. Moreover, Lordy Tugade has yet to see an above average game in the playoffs--- maybe it's his time to shine. Winning the shooting guard/small forward battle should be a priority. This is because of two points; a) TNT's wings are also very capable offensively, if you can't stop or contain them, at least make them work on the defensive end. The usual suspects will be there; Mac Cardona and maybe even the rookies (Dillinger, Castro) will step up. and b) TNT's depth across the 1-5 spots can neutralize San Miguel's own depth that it is vital for the Beermen to win in the said positions.

+ Heart, heart and heart. If there's one thing that San Miguel learned in the wildcard then in the quarters it's that it's not talent alone that will win you ballgames--- it's that innate and basic desire to wanting to win because it's all that matters. The test of the wild card was a surprise phase for the much-maligned "all star" line-up. And Ginebra became the tough customer that everyone expected. But... Siot's boys learned the lessons (the hard way) and the Beermen should simply remember those lessons.