I always root for the underdog and I consider Alaska and Rain or Shine always the underdogs when playing against the teams of Boss Danding and MVP. They do not have the lavish financial support enjoyed by the teams of the two business moguls. Neither do they have the luxury of rotating players and coaches according to the particular needs of sister teams, especially one with a good chance of winning the crown.
The 2011 and 2012 seasons saw the transfer of Rico Villanueva, Kerby Raymundo, and Rico Maierhofer, all top quality power forwards, from Purefoods to Ginebra to boost Gin Kings’ chances of winning the championship, perhaps to boost in turn the sales of the Ginebra product. On the part of the MVP teams, there was the move of Talk ‘N Text players Sean Anthony, John Ferriols, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, and Jai Reyes to strengthen isister team Meralco, which had not gone beyond the second round of a conference.
As regards the coaches of the teams of the giant conglomerates, there was the musical chair game played by San Miguel Coach Ato Agustin moving to Ginebra as consultant, subsequently becoming head coach, and Assistant Coach Boysie Zamar going the reverse way. Remember, the exchange of places between San Miguel’s Jong Uichico and Ginebra’s Ciot Tanquincen many years ago?
As for the MVP bench tacticians, Norman Black and his assistants moved from Talk ‘N Text to Meralco and Meralco consultant Uichico going to Talk ‘N Text.
Although I was cheering for underdog Alaska, I predicted San Miguel sweeping the Philippine Cup. But the Aces almost pulled off a monumental upset but JV Casio’s 3-point attempt in the dying seconds of Game 7 missed by an inch. Same with Rain or Shine. Before the start of the current championship series, I said the series would end 4-1, with RoS at the short end of things. I thought when Jayson Castro went on a rampage in the second quarter in last Friday’s game, TNT would even sweep the series. But I was astounded when the Elasto Painters, who looked demoralized by the Jayson Castro storm in the second quarter, methodically whittled down TNT’s 18-point lead and eventually overtake TNT.
The Aces and the Elasto Painters have replaced the aging Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings as the never-say-die players. I cannot understand why basketball fans have not embraced them. Could it be because of the antics of Cal Abueva in the case of Alaska and the rugged game of Beau Belga in the case of Rain or Shine? But Ginebra had Rudy Distrito, who was not only rugged, he was rough. And there was the Living Legend himself, Robert Jaworski, who was the team’s chief enforcer and the nemesis of the referees.