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Philippine Basketball

  1. Let It Snow

    Snow Badua of spin.ph has been summarily banned from the Philippine Basketball Association.

    This came about because of articles by Badua that came out in spin.ph, another online sports portal.

    Badua has been coming out in spin for years, so what made these particular articles so offensive to the PBA?

    Badua, as he has done throughout his online writing career, did an article that can be best described in the local media parlance as a "blind item."

    In that article, Abby Poblador had said on the podcast of a radio / talk show that she had slept with a PBA executive who used to be a coach. While the spin article did not name the PBA coach-turned-executive, Poblador referred on the same podcast to the man as "long hair".

    Sure enough the reading public put two and two together and surmised that the coach-turned-executive in question was Ginebra Governor Alfrancis Chua. Chua did after all fit in perfectly: He used to be a coach, he is now an executive, and for the longest time has sported long hair that he normally wears in a ponytail.

    Poblador is a mixed martial arts ring girl, who is now a "sexy star", however one may want to define that ridiculous designation. One of her gigs was a halftime show for the PBA called "AKTV Center".

    Naturally, in the Internet age, Chua and Badua, instead of duking it out and getting a beer afterwards, got it on in social media, particularly Twitter.

    A couple days after that article came out, the PBA banned Badua, through the Commissioner, Chito Narvasa.

    Here - verbatim - are some of what appeared in the PBA's letter to Badua:

    “It has come to my attention that you had used different media platforms to malign, embarrass and mortify a person of authority of this association. Your incessant attacks on Twitter on Mr. Alfrancis Chua, team governor of Ginebra San Miguel, has caused distress, embarrassment and disharmony with his family.”

    “And upon my investigation, said stories have no factual basis. It is only a concoction of an evil and malicious mind. And if you believe that you can evade responsibility by posting said unfounded stories in a social network, you are mistaken.”

    “For your disrespectful arrogance and unceasing attacks on a person of authority of the PBA, I am officially informing you that I am banning you from any and all PBA activities, games, practices and similar undertakings effective immediately.”

    “This ban shall take effect immediately and shall remain in effect until further clearance from this office."

    Suffice it to say, the PBA has decided to protect one of its own.

    Some things that should be made clear:

    - Badua's type of "journalism" is not to my liking. It is too much of the tabloid / showbiz variety that only happens to be about sports. His scoop-at-all-costs mentality is also not to my liking.

    As a journalist however, he was not only just doing his job. This was not even something that came from Badua originally. This already came out through that podcast; Badua essentially rehashed information that had already come out on a different online platform.

    - The PBA as a private institution certainly has every right to decide who may and may not take part in any of its activities, and who may or may not approach or otherwise deal with its teams, officials, coaches, and other employees and members.

    One thing though, is the PBA saying here that all of its officials, executives, even players, are now totally off limits for criticism and even the mere allusion of bad behavior?

    Shouldn't the PBA be more concerned that one of its high executives, a Team Governor, no less, and a married one at that, might actually have slept with a woman not his legal spouse?

    - I am not about to go into a Civil and Political Rights lecture about the freedom of the press. Suffice it to say that if this will become a test case for what one may or may not publish online, I can only hope the Courts do a good job of it.

    Online writing is too much of an open frontier. For those who have never been through any sort of press experience, or press training, the Internet is the Wild Wild West, with the only rule being he who gets the most unique hits and likes wins. As with all things that are a source or platform for commerce and making a living, there have to be rules here.

    I fully support some calls to have this sweeping overreaction of a ban on Badua lifted. He may perhaps be banned in any and all activities, including games and practices, where Ginebra is involved, but for everything else he should be allowed to make his living and to do his job. Let us say this particular game day features four teams, none of which is Ginebra, let Badua into ...
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  2. Philippine Cup BPC Race

    Every player will tell you that the individual awards are nice but their main goal is to win a championship. Still, there is something mighty nice about getting that trophy for yourself. It is a recognition of all and sundry of your accomplishments. And who does not appreciate being appreciated? Let's take a look at the Top 10 PBA Players in the ongoing Philippine Cup:

    1. Junemar Fajardo, Center, San Miguel Beer

    18.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.3 blocks per game

    The man they call "The Kracken" is having arguably the best season of his career, and he just came fresh off an MVP season. More than the numbers, Fajardo has shown new wrinkles to his game, including a turnaround jumper from the post, and a much-improved transition game. He is without a doubt now the best player in the league, not just the best big man, and arguably one of the top players in Asia.

    2. Calvin Abueva, Forward, Alaska

    17.4 points, 13 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals per game

    People sometimes wonder about Abueva's real size. His numbers suggest he must be at least 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. In reality he is closer to 6-foot-2 and 190. You have to wonder how someone like that gets a 20-20 in any game, and yet he's done it a couple times in his young career. Abueva has become the engine powering the Alaska early offense and secondary break, and he remains the player with the best motor in the league.

    3. Greg Slaughter, Center, Ginebra

    15.6 points, 13 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1 block per game

    The reigning Rookie Of the Year is once again putting up great numbers. Too bad he fizzled when his Gin Kings needed him most, scoring only eight points and struggling against the TNT frontline in their do-or-die loss to the Texters, ousting them from further contention. Still, Slaughter is arguably among the top 3 centers in the PBA, and teams not named San Miguel would trade half their rosters to get him.

    4. Arwind Santos, Forward, San Miguel Beer

    15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 blocks per game

    Speaking of MVP, the Beermen boast of two on their starting unit. Santos provides a lot of stability and support to his burgeoning center Fajardo, and puts up MVP-level numbers himself for the best team in the tournament. Santos will once again be called upon to steady the SMB ship once the Best-of-7 semifinals versus TNT gets going next week.

    5. Cliff Hodge, Forward, Meralco

    13.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 bloack per game

    Playing well for a mediocre team, Hodge has made the most of his opportunity, and he's put up the numbers to back it up. He is probably among the Top 5 most underrated players in the league, but his motor is probably second only to Abueva's. At only 6-foot-3, Hodge fights tooth and nail to clean up the boards for the Bolts, and provides them elite athleticism at both forward spots.

    6. Alex Cabagnot, Guard, GlobalPort / San Miguel

    15.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.1 steals per game

    Cabagnot was enjoying a renaissance of sorts with GlobalPort prior to the trade that sent him back to the SMB fold. He was among the Top 5 guards of this conference and was getting every opportunity to showcase his considerable talent. With the Beermen he will have to be more of a facilitator, which will definitely affect his numbers, but if that means winning the championship then trust him to get the job done.

    7. Japheth Aguilar, Forward, Ginebra

    14.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game

    Aguilar is without a doubt the most athletically gifted player in the league. He has freakish leaping and running ability in a 6-foot-9 frame, and his length is enough to disrupt any shot he does not block. But questions remain as to his guts, if he has the killer instinct to move from being just another athletic player to being a true elite go-to guy. His disappointing performance in their do-or-die versus TNT suggests much remains to be done in spite of his numbers.

    8. Asi Taulava, Center, NLEX

    16.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists per game

    Talk about immortals. Taulava is the oldest player in the league. That he is still among the Top 10 players says a lot about his dedication and passion. He is no longer the roaring freight train he was 10 years ago, but he is still a very productive player who can take on the best PBA big man toe to toe.

    9. Paul Lee, Guard, Rain Or Shine

    15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game

    The real reason the Elasto Painters are a top team is because of the playmaking prowess of the Lethal Weapon. Seriously, this is a team that on paper doesn't look like much. But they've been to two straight Finals and ...
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  3. Its A Team Thing

    Basketball is a team sport. There are five guys making up a side on court at all times. There are easily seven to eleven other guys on the bench. In the pros, there might be two or three guys on the reserve list, quite apart from those with farm teams who can call up any guy any time to be on the regular roster.

    Coaches will set up systems on offense and defense that maximizes the total talent and skill of their guys, especially if they are not a particularly deep, strong, or big team. It is a very simple principle: in team sports the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.

    Yes, the minute the team superstar is declared out for the season with an ACL injury, a contender will most likely struggle monumentally to the playoffs only to take an early exit. Yes, some losses, especially superstars, cannot be made up for with the rest of the roster, in spite of the best coaching and even novenas to all the saints. Yes, all you need is one guy not being on the same page to completely undo a carefully laid out plan.

    But the team is still supreme. No matter how good your superstar is he still needs support. That is why the formula has always been to build around your best player. You get one elite player, give him two all star sidekicks, then complete the rotation with four or five good quality role players. Seriously, even Michael Jordan would never have won all those championships if he had been surrounded by say Mike Smrek, Jon Sundvold, Terry Catledge, and Kurt Rambis, no Horace Grant, no Dennis Rodman, no Luc Longley, and especially no Scottie Pippen.

    In the PBA only four teams have ever completed a grand slam title reign. Each and every one of those teams had at least an all star starting five.

    Now if one guy cannot win championships by himself, why is it fans, sportswriters, and even basketball lifers seem to believe that one guy can be blamed for the failings of his team?

    It does not make sense to me. One guy, even if he was the best player of his era, still needs other good players on his side to win championships. But we are quick to blame one guy for the failings of an entire team. Michael Jordan didn't win those championships, his team, the Chicago Bulls did. Yes, he was the superstar, arguably the best player ever, but it is not his name alone in the history books, it is his team. Same goes for the likes of Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers, Larry Bird and Bill Russell with the Celtics, Tim Duncan with the Spurs, and LeBron James with the Heat. Those triumphs may have been due in large part to those individuals, but they are attributed wholly to those teams.

    So why is it when the Lakers aren't doing so well this season, the blame is heaped only or primarily on Bryant? He's the league's leading scorer, so he must be doing everything he can. He is paid to lead this team, and to lead it by scoring. A lot. Unfortunately the Lakers have a current record more reminiscent of the Clippers from the 1980's. They are currently at 8-17, the third-worst team in the entire Western Conference.

    Same goes for LA Tenorio and Barangay Ginebra. As of this writing, Ginebra is set to take on Talk N Text tonight at the Big Dome to determine who advances to the semifinals versus either Rain Or Shine or Alaska. Tenorio has had a bad Philippine Cup so far, with a 1.3 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. At the start of the conference the Gin Kings were on a five-game roll, but they faltered midway through the eliminations, and were at one point skidding to a four-game losing streak, settling at a poor 6-5 to end the eliminations.

    I am unaware of all the number-crunching the better writers have put together to bolster their cases against both Bryant and Tenorio. All I can say is: those numbers prove nothing not already known.

    Bryant is an aging superstar with arguably one of the weaker Lakers rosters he's ever played on. Sure, he's got all star-types in Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer, but there is only so much the three of them can do. His ball movement-killing tendency to hold on to the ball for 15 seconds of the shot clock is sure not helping, but this is Bryant we're talking about. Do you really want the offense to go through say Nick Young or Jordan Hill? The Lakers will live and die with the guy who guarantees them the billion-dollar TV coverage deals.

    Tenorio supposedly has the best frontline in the PBA with the biggest player in the league, Greg Slaughter, and 6-foot-9 pogo stick Japheth Aguilar. They even have a recent MVP in the venerable Mark Caguioa, and young talents Joseph Yeo and Chris Ellis, with a tough, experienced, and big complementary crew. But this team supposedly runs a lot of the triangle offense that head coach Jeff Cariaso imbibed from long-time mentor Tim Cone. That system is one of the most difficult things to learn in the game, ...
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  4. It Ain't About the D

    It has been about a half-decade now since the PBA D League got going. That D in its name stands for "Developmental". Looking back on the five short years it has been around though, development seems to just be a nasty rumor for the league.

    When the idea for the D League first came around it was a product of the times. The old Philippine Basketball League (PBL) had played out its last tournament in late 2009, and a vacuum was created in that "bridge stage" for college / varsity / commercial league players before they took their crack at the PBA. In that last PBL hurrah, Excel Roof, featuring the core of the then-NCAA champion San Sebastian Golden Stags under Ato Agustin, won the crown. It was a truly golden year for those Stags.

    Many of those same San Sebastian players would go on to play for the NLEX Road Warriors, who have won all but one D League championship since the league began.

    It has been asked before by Gameface: where is the D in all this?

    After all these years the answer is clear: the D is not what you think it stands for.

    Let's hear from PBA (and by extension PBA D League) Commissioner Chito Salud: "When we started this (D League) five years ago, we allowed direct hires, because the league itself is not yet established," he explained in one interview about a month and a half ago over a brouhaha related to the first-ever D League draft which we will get to shortly. "We want to establish the league first," he added.

    In the aftermath of that inaugural rookie draft, three draft picks wound up going to teams different from the teams that drafted them.

    Chris Newsome, the Ateneo star swingman, was drafted by Tanduay Light, but wound up signing with Hapee, apparently because Tanduay Light failed to get him to sign a tender offer within a five-day period after the draft. That made Newsome a free agent under D League rules. That then allowed him to sign with Hapee.

    As expected, Tanduay Light head coach Lawrence Chongson just plain went ballistic, going on a weeks-long media rant about the uselessness of the draft, and how the D League seemed to be "rigged" in favor of the bigger-spending teams. "Taguan ka lang ng player for five days papano na?" Chongson lamented in one interview.

    We will not get into the he said-she said exchange that then ensued between Chongson and Newsome's agent Charlie Dy. Suffice it to say, Chongson was summoned by Salud, they talked about the whole Newsome situation, and Chongson got hit with a one-game suspension coupled with a bright and shiny P150,000 fine.

    One other player decided he was not going to play for Tanduay Light in the ongoing Aspirants Cup, FEU star Mac Belo. Belo for his part claims he told Tanduay management as early as the last D League conference that if his school fields a team he will play for his school team. FEU did field a D League team this conference, carrying the MJM Builders banner. Belo dutifully joined MJM-FEU.

    Chongson went after Belo too, threatening to take legal action since Belo apparently had a live contract with Tanduay. After his meeting with Salud, the Belo affair was dropped and forgotten as well.

    Two more draftees wound up in effect getting 'traded" for each other. Lasalle center Arnold Van Opstal was picked third by Cafe France. Fil-Am guard Maverick Ahanmisi was taken ninth by Hapee. Van Opstal eventually signed with Hapee. Ahanmisi wound up with Cafe France. Since draft picks cannot be traded under D League rules, one can only assume both players just allowed the five-day period to expire, with their drafting teams not moving either. As free agents they signed with the teams that wanted them. It seems strange though that a team would trade a third pick for a ninth pick, especially if that third pick is a 6-foot-8 center coveted by almost every team.

    So it turns out all of Chongson's laments were not unfounded after all. It seems the draft didn't really improve the lot of teams that were really looking to build on it. Newsome and Van Opstal join a powerhouse Hapee squad that features 6-foot-8 Nigerian Ola Adeogun, 6-foot-7 NU star Troy Rosario, two-time UAAP MVP Ray Parks, and veteran D LEague star Garvo Lanete and Kirk Long. Considering Long and Adeogun will never see PBA action unless they are taken in as imports, it seems Hapee needs little to no development.

    One can only surmise therefore that the development here is not for individual players, or even for fledgling teams. Development here is for the league itself. It looks like the D League is being developed in its entirety as a league. Salud's own words all but confirm that.

    The PBA is apparently looking to establish and develop the D League into a legit farm league, much like the NBA D League after which it is somewhat patterned. That it has 12 teams now, in ...
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  5. Whereforth Art Thou Gilas

    Since that unmitigated apocalypse known as the failure to medal of the Gilas National Team at the 2014 Asian Games, the PR Mill has been running on virtual overdrive.

    Is Vincent "Chot" Reyes fired as Gilas head coach?

    Has the team itself been disbanded?

    What is all this talk about reevaluating the program?

    There were far too many questions and not enough clear answers. Speculations flew here, there and every bloody where.

    This of course came on the heels of Gilas not even making the quarterfinals of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea a month and a half back. "Everybody was disappointed with that result, and I don't think there is any other way to put it," Barrios admitted.

    Good thing Gameface was able to sit down with former PBA Commissioner Renaud "Sonny" Barrios, the Executive Director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas or SBP. ED Barrios was the main guest of the online sportswriters group organized by the venerable Beth Celis.

    Barrios said he the online group was "heaven sent", and that he was grateful for the opportunity to sit down with the group because he had "a lot of things to clarify".

    This of course came on the heels of Gilas not even making the quarterfinals of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea a month and a half back. "Everybody was disappointed with that result, and I don't think there is any other way to put it," Barrios admitted.

    Barrios proceeded from the SBP Board Meeting that was held just last week. Some online reports (not in Gameface) stated that Reyes, the Twitter-happiest coach in Philippine basketball, had effectively been dropped as Gilas head coach during that board meeting.

    "The word 'Chot' was not brought up ever during that board meeting," Barrios declared unequivocally. "Medyo senior (citizen) na din po tayo, pero sharp pa din naman ang ating ala-ala, at masasabi ko po ng siguradong-sigurado that the name 'Chot' was not even brought up during that meeting," added Barrios.

    So is Reyes still the head coach of Gilas? That unfortunately was not categorically answered by the ED, SBP. He did go to some lengths to explain that there is now a search committee that will be coming up with a shortlist of candidates for head coach of Gilas. That list may or may not include Reyes. Reyes, in other words, is not completely out of the picture, but neither is he 100% guaranteed to retain his job.

    Moving on to the team itself, Barrios was again unequivocal, "Yes, the team is disbanded."

    As with other national teams that saw action in the FIBA Worlds and the Asian Games, since they are made up mostly of professional players, after the tournament is done then the teams disband so the players can go back to their respective professional basketball careers. "Team USA was disbanded, and they won the gold, of course because players like James Harden, Derrick Rose, and all the rest had to go back to their teams and prepare for the NBA Season."

    "It is the same case for Gilas and our players. The PBA has started, so of course they had to go back to their mother ball clubs to prepare for the season," he added.

    Although the team has been disbanded the Gilas program itself continues, part of the reason why it is under reevaluation. There will still be Philippine participation in international basketball tournaments, hence the need to still have a national team program.

    "MVP (Manuel V Pangilinan, SBP President and Chair) wants to make the program more participative, and more consultative, that is why we are also heavily involving all of the SBP Regional units, like for example Cebu through Yayoy Alcoseba," Barrios explained.

    So let us be clear about the three questions posited at the beginning:

    1. Reyes has not been "fired".

    2. The team that competed in Spain and South Korea has been disbanded, but not for any failure on their part, but simply because it is the PBA season already.

    3. There is indeed an ongoing reevaluation of the Gilas Program, because that is part and parcel of what all credible organizations do.

    One of the other key issues raised during the round table was the schedule of the PBA. Since Gilas players all come from the PBA, their season schedule directly affects how much time any Gilas team can be assembled and trained. Sometimes of course, the best-laid plans come undone with something as mundane as a rescheduling by FIBA of a given tournament.

    "Hindi din talaga madali para kina Commissioner (Chito) Salud to just reschedule everything if for instance FIBA moves a tournament from August to October with only a two-week notice. Siempre maraming kaakibat 'yan, like reserving their venues, timing of their PR, at marami pang iba," Barrios said.
    ...
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