The Philippine Cup (All-Filipino Conference) of the PBA

In my last posting, I wrote that PBA Commissioner Chito Salud would not dare fine Manny Pangilinan, owner of the Talk ‘N Talk team, for the latter’s remark about the bad officiating that caused TNT to lose to San Miguel Beer in the second game of their series. Salud is harsh when it comes to coaches and players making negative comments about the officiating, fining them as much as P30 K for criticizing referees. But Salud’s silence on MVP’s negative comments on the referees was deafening.

That is because Salud does not have the stature and the independence to stand up to owners of PBA teams. The owners decide who is appointed Commissioner. MVP has three votes because he has three teams in the PBA. During the half-time break of the 4th game between Alaska and Rain or Shine, courtside reporter Erika Padilla interviewed Commissioner Salud about the 2014 basketball season. Salud was all praises for MVP’s support of Gilas Pilipinas. That should assure Salud of three votes for the renewal of his contract as PBA Commissioner.

Salud should now be at ease and not worry about referees making calls that go against MVP’s teams. San Miguel Beer has eliminated Talk ‘N Text from the finals of the Philippine Cup of the 2014-15 season, shutting out the MVP teams from the All-Filipino Conference championship in decisive fashion, defeating TNT in four straight games. The Danding Cojuangco-owned team avenged the defeat of two of his franchises, Purefoods Hot Shots and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, at the hands of MVP’s Meralco Bolts and Talk ‘N Text, respectively, in the quarterfinal round.

The semifinals drew lean crowds in spite of the fact that the opposing teams are evenly matched. The possible reasons for it: 1. the crowd’s favorite Ginebra San Miguel is not in the round; 2 the best-of-seven series is too long for a semifinal round; 3.Only one game is played per playing date; 4. Many fans are out-of-town.

I do not expect the finals to do any better at the turnstiles. For one, the crowd will be lean because Ginebra is not one of the finalists. For another, the finalists will not be evenly matched. San Miguel Beer is much superior than either Alaska or Rain or Shine. It will run roughshod over Alaska or Rain or Shine. Whoever is assigned to guard Jun Mar Fajardo of San Miguel – Alaska’s 6’8” Sonny Thoss, RoS’ 6’5” Beau Belga, 6’6” JR Quinahan, or 6’8” Raymond Almazan – will have difficulty limiting the production of the bigger and deft 6’10” Jun Mar. Rob Reyes of TNT, who was successful in neutralizing Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, was ineffective against Jun Mar. The veteran 6’8” Jay Washington of TNT tried but failed.

The Ginebra fanatics should accept the fact that their favorite team is not of champion caliber. Their old heroes Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa are past their prime. So are Billy Mamaril and Jay-R Reyes. LA Tenorio does not look as motivated as he was a couple of years ago, maybe because he has achieved stardom or maybe because he is tired as he looked in the last game.

Jeffrey Cariaso, former player and assistant coach of Tim Cone is an exponent of the triangle offense like his long-time mentor. Unfortunately, he was not given enough time to convert the run-and-gun offense that Ginebra was known for to the 3-prong offense. Tim Cone took more than two conferences to make veterans James Yap, PJ Simon, and Marc Pingris, get used to the triangle offense and start winning crowns. Joe Devance had no problem because he had played for Alaska under Cone.

Coach Alex Compton abandoned Alaska’s trademark offense and exploited to the hilt the skills his young players Jvee Casio, Calvin Abueva, RJ Jazul, Vic Manuel, Chris Banchero, and Ping Exciminiano brought with them when they entered the pro league. That is what Ato Agustin should do with the new generation of Ginebra players: Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Ellis, Mac Baracael, and Emman Monfort. I am puzzled why rookie Rodney Brondial is fielded while the seasoned Dylan Ababou sits on the bench.

I expect Slaughter though to go the way of 7’1” EJ Feihl, No. 2 pick overall in 1995 and Andy Seigle, No. 1 pick overall and rookie of the year in 1997. After their impressive rookie year, their playing time was reduced as opposing centers shorter than they pushed them out of their comfort zone, the low post. As mentioned earlier the heavy and wide-bodied Rob Reyes of TNT pushed Slaughter out of the low post, where the Gregzilla just waited for a pass from LA or for a rebound to score. Reyes tried to do the same thing to Fajardo, but Fajardo ran rings around Rob. Slaughter does not have the footwork of Fajardo.

Give the Gregzilla three more years and he will be joining the ranks of Sanmig Eman, Nonoy Baclao, and until recently Rabeh Al-Hussaini, who were all No.1 or No. 2 pick overall.

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