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.