The Blueprint

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The Blueprint

Post by MR. FAST on Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:01 pm

The Blueprint
When Barangay Ginebra San Miguel team manager Alfrancis Chua threw a fit last season just weeks after steering the club to a surprise run at a PBA Commissioner’s Cup 1st runner up finish, it was met with a lot of surprise and apprehension from various camps.

Some circles reported that Chua’s then departure was brought about by the sudden, mid-season changes in his staff, others say it was the nagging player trade scenarios. Others say that Chua simply had enough of the top brass and how things were being run by some choice personnel.

Whatever it may be, there were a lot of compromises and concessions made which ultimately led to Chua’s return (and promotion) while also appearing to have “free hand” over team decisions (which is the role of a manager anyway) and how Ginebra would move forward as they slowly transition away from the storied “Mark Caguioa Era.”

As a big Chua fan since he shocked the world via the Stag Pale Pilsen/ Tanduay team in the now defunct (and greatly missed if only for the beauty that is the Makati Coliseum) Philippine Basketball League, it’s already known that he is a straight up, “man’s man” type of guy. He is loyal to a fault (how else could you explain the years spent over at Santa Lucia, milking whatever he could from the enervated Marlou Aquino) and is not a big fan of drastic changes when it comes to a basketball team’s makeup and chemistry.

So in a way, when Chua et. al. opted for the seven foot project Greg Slaughter over a more polished, “win now” 6”5 forward in Ian Sanggalang, it almost comes as no surprise.

In the fold are Caguioa, Jay Jay Helterbrand and rising (if he isn’t already) Ginebra heir L.A. Tenorio who want and need the basketball in their hands to deliver. There’s a 6”9 athlete named Japeth Aguilar who is, and has always been, on a mission to showcase his talents wherever he can if only to prove himself better than the next tall Filipino basketball player.

Bringing in Sanggalang would be nice, but it would also force Aguilar to share some ball time with the more polished rookie. The rest goes for Ginebra’s slew of young, high flying wings Chris Ellis, Mac Baracael and the risen Dylan Ababou.

Contrary to what sister team Petron Blaze would do, Chua opted for continuity. He could’ve taken head coach Ato Agustin out of the picture but he didn’t. Ginebra could’ve went on a binge for younger talent at the guard spots to eventually supplant Caguioa and Helterbrand but they stuck to wanting to develop their young guys while also “appreciating” their two former PBA Most Valuable Players so that the pair could one day ride off into the sunset together as Ginebra Never Say Die loyalists.

From the outside looking in, Ginebra is arguably the most balanced team among the three (declared) San Miguel PBA franchises. They have young, unproven names from positions three to five, but if things pan out the way it should Ellis, Ababou, Slaughter, Aguilar and even Baracael could all one day easily represent the country in international meets alongside Tenorio.

While Sunday’s blowout win over the San Mig Coffee Mixers was impressive, it shouldn’t be taken as a definite gauge of Ginebra’s true ability. One, the Mixers’ PJ Simon and Joe DeVance were out and defensive hound Marc Pingris needs maybe another match with the Ginebra frontline to be able to study more film and break down his opponents. Two, Slaughter is still a project big man. He is serviceable in terms of activity in the paint which makes him better than E.J. Feihl, but at the moment he looks and feels more of the finesse type. Having played in a collegiate league where his only competition came from 6”5 imports, there was no true need for him to develop a post up game because he could simply shoot over guys with relative ease.

In the PBA, though Slaughter’s only real competition would be versus rival June Mar Fajardo, Asi Taulava and maybe a Sonny Thoss—the “smaller” centers will not hesitate or mind giving Ginebra’s future cornerstone a cheap, body shot (or five) in games. Other "building blocks" have also been placed to ensure Ginebra stays relevant and doesn't have to suffer from having to rely on aging stars (like they did maybe two-three years ago).

Chua’s laid out the blueprint quite nicely, now it’s all up to the coaches and players to grow together and make it all come true.

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