For the second straight conference the crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has been eliminated from the Final Four playoffs. This in spite of the team having superstars Mark Caguioa, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, the league’s tallest center Greg Slaughter, Fil-Ams Joe Devance, Chris Ellis, Sol Mercado, and the highly-touted rookies Scottie Thompson and Dave Marcelo, and the winningest coach of the league Tim Cone.
Many find it hard to believe that a team with so many talented players and a brilliant tactician for a coach can’t get past the first round of the playoffs. Well, that is the very reason the team has failed to go to the semifinal round. Cone has to give ample playing time to all the superstars. He has to give LA and Sol equal time at the point, Japeth, JDV, Chris at power forward, and he has to field the promising point guard Thompson and future power forward Marcelo for seasoning as they are the probable replacements for the veterans LA and JDV. As the game against Rain or Shine could be the last game for the Kings in this conference, Cone fielded the team’s Elder Jayjay Helterbrand. The frequent change in combinations on the court cost the team’s fluidity.
I have said from the time he entered the league that Slaughter is all height, not much talent. He scores in the high 20s because he towers ovr all the other centers in the league. He always shoots facing the goal or tips in missed shots. He does not have the elusive footwork under the goal that Junmar Fajardo does so well.
In their best-of-three series, Rain or Shine broke fast to their front court every time they got the ball to leaving behind the slow-footed Slaughter. Most ofteh there was no Gregzilla around to block the shots of RoS slashers Jeff Chan and Chris Tiu or pluck the rebound if the Painters missed their shots. Gregzilla was was kept off the paint by the bulky Pierre Henderson-Niles.
The sullen countenance of Mark Caguioa and Sol Mercado as they sat on the bench in the waning minutes of the game hinted major change in the team in the next conference. When Cone took over at the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, he said “too many point guards” about the team. So, he disposed of Emman Monfort and Josh Urbiztondo but then he drafted Thompson. So, one of the older point guards, LA and Mark the Spark, will most probably go. LA has an edge because he is a veteran of the patented triangle offense of Cone, LA having played for Tim before when they were with Alaska. Sol is a run-and-gun player, the type of offense that does not seem to suit Cone. That is why Josh was let go. Ellis is another run-and-gunner.