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In Your Face!

Let's talk balls.

  1. Homestretch, and a Fearless Finals Forecast

    "I fucking hate you," said I.

    Mr Libog didn't even stop stuffing his gob with the excellently charred brick oven pizza with prosciutto and arugula as he asked, "What the fuck is your problem now?"

    "We didn't make the spread on the last game goddam it!" I exclaimed exasperatedly.

    "Its sports betting, you know, legal gambling but still gambling, by definition that is never a sure thing. If you want a sure thing, try stocks and futures," and he took a swig of his Diet Coke.

    The Ateneo won by eight points over Lasalle over the weekend, and our inveterate book makers gave us a spread of... a little more than that. As we were both inclined to think the Ateneo would walk all over Lasalle, much like their first round encounter, we put money on the Blue Eagles.

    "Its that so-called genius coach of yours, you know, that Tab Baldwin, he doesn't post (Angelo) Kouame up much, preferring that ridiculous pasa-pasa, ikot-bola bullshit. If he had actually trained Kouame the way (former Ateneo head coach Norman) Black trained Rabeh (Al-Hussaini) I swear to you Kouame would eat every frontline in the UAAP alive, every goddam frontline. But your guy doesn't want to do it that way, he thinks basketball is a team game where the, what was it he said? The 16th guy is just as important as the starting 5? God... what utter and absolute bullshit." And this time he was having at the very flavorful pasta tartuffo with vodka cream sauce.

    "What the hell is it with you and Tab anyway? Did he used to date your sister? Hindi si (Lawrence) Chongson 'yan ha," I protested.

    "I never said he was. And I would even go so far as to say he absolutely knows his stuff, certainly I might even say he's a good coach. Pero alam mo naman ang tingin ko sa coaches 'di ba? No such thing as a genius coach. Tab is not a genius coach, even Norman is not a genius coach," he said.

    We've had this conversation many times before of course, and I was wondering how this turned up in a discussion over the last Ateneo-Lasalle game.

    "If he was a real genius should he not go to his best player, all the time? Si Phil Jackson nga, kahit si Pat Riley, or si Greg Popovich, they always give credit and mention their superstars like Shaq (O'Neal), Kobe (Bryant), Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan. How come Tab, when he has an interview, barely mentions any of his guys. If I had Kouame on my team, I would never bullshit the media: I'd tell them straight that 99% of the reason we're winning is because of Kouame. Hindi nga tayo halos maka-shoot pag nakaupo si Kouame eh, wala din tayo taga-gulo sa loob para hindi maka-shoot mga kalaban pag wala si Kouame. So ano pa silbi nung hocky assist at nung playing the right way na parati niyang binibida? Isaac (Go) was what, 15% from three-point range before the UP game? I thought Tab turned him into the finest stretch 5 in the league? 15%? We're near the bottom in terms of offense, where are all the baskets that are supposed to come from the 'Tab System' that everyone raves about? Don't tell me it only works on defense, because the reason we're at the top on defense is because our import blocks more shots than entire teams, and changes even more shots than he blocks just by being on the floor. I doubt that has anything to do with any system." As he once again went through his litany.

    I was waiting for him to get to the point.

    "So if he had trained Kouame and gone to him, the way Phil went to Shaq, Kouame would probably be averaging an easy 25 and 15 to go with his 4 blocks. He would've gotten an easy 30 and 20 against Lasalle, for sure. He's 7-feet, maybe 260 pounds, and he's gotten stronger and faster. Ano gagawin ng Lasalle para pigilan siya, ubusin mga fouls nina (Justin) Baltazar, (Brandon) Bates, kahit nung bulok na (James) Laput? (Jamie) Malonzo nga fouled out eh. You wanna know why we lost that bet? Because your coach is not a genius, worse, he's stubborn, and probably a little ego-driven, meaning Ateneo has to win because of Tab and Tab's System, not because of Angelo Kouame," he emphasized.

    "That's not a fair accusation. You can't argue with success, right?" said I.

    "Of course, 10-0, sinong gago magsasabing mali si Tab? Pero you were asking why we didn't win the bet. The answer is simple: Tab has to win HIS way." he responded.

    "So what about Lasalle, what happens to them now? They have five games to go, three against teams that beat them in Round 1," I asked.

    "Kaya na nila mga 'yon. Kaya nila mawalis mga huling laro nila. Sana lang hindi atakihin ng katangahan coach nila, or sapian na naman ng espirito ng bwakaw at bayani basketball 'yun dalawang maliit nila (Andrei Caracut and Aljun Melecio). Huwag na nila pahirapan sarili nila, pahawak bola kay (Jordan) Bartlett, gawin lang catch-shoot sina Melecio at Caracut. ...
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