Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rain or Shine could be dominant this conference

         Photo by Paul Ryan Tan/AKTV

The new PBA season is underway and "new look" teams (from all the player movement and rookie draft) might have some adjusting to do with one another. But Rain or Shine, the recently crowned Governors' Cup champions, didn't look like it needed any adjusting when they took on and handily beat Petron Blaze, 102-86, and looked like they were still playing in last conference's finals.

The All-Filipino conference is one of the most coveted titles because there are no imports so your locals - the backbone of the team - have to carry the load themselves. It is also the conference that Coach Yeng Guaio has yet to win a championship in. The core of the championship team remained intact and the Elasto Painters added Chris Tiu from the rookie draft. 

From the start of the game, the Elasto Painters displayed their newfound confidence that was noticeably missing when they first entered the league. The franchise was a perennial cellar dweller, but winning  their first championship seemed to have given them extra spunk.

The more noticeable difference, however, was with Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan. The two starred for the SMART Gilas Pilipinas national squad that won the Jones Cup and placed fourth in the FIBA Asia Cup. 

Norwood played a significant role in running the Gilas offense, occasionally taking over point guard duties but also pushing the pace even when playing up front. In fact, he might have been a more important piece in the Gilas offense than he was in Rain or Shine these last few seasons.

Norwood was the first overall pick in the 2008 PBA Draft but never really played like a franchise player. He would shy away from big shots, especially during the time when Sol Mercado was still with the Elasto Painters. And last year, with the addition of clutch rookie Paul Lee, Norwood again had an "excuse" to stay in the shadows. 

But during his stint with Gilas, we saw a Gabe Norwood who accepted a role that we never saw him play -- a go-to guy. Norwood easily broke down taller opponents in the Jones Cup and FIBA Asia Cup, and he did the same in his return to the PBA tonight, using his penetration to frustrate Petron's frontline.

Jeff Chan, meanwhile, looks like he's wants to lock down the role of the number 2 man on the team. Chan used to be more comfortable in a spot-up shooter role. But after his stint with Gilas, he looks a lot more like a Scottie Pippen than a Toni Kukoc. Chan led Rain or Shine in scoring tonight, dropping 20 points on the Boosters.

The boys of Extra Rice, Inc. also seems to have found a new recruit in Jervy Cruz. Cruz might not be as hefty as a Belga or a Quinahan, but he sure played like he belonged with the big boys, as the trio made life miserable for heralded Petron rookie June Mar Fajardo.

Everything looks like it's coming together for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. They certainly made a statement tonight by beating a star-studded Petron Blaze unit. But whether they can give Yeng Guiao his first ever All-Filipino title - that remains to be seen.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lutz, Lassiter Declared Ineligible; Gilas hammers U.A.E.

The Smart Gilas Pilipinas team were met by news that wing men Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz were ineligible to play at the FIBA Asia Men's Championship in Wuhan. Team Pilipinas, however, stayed focus and dominated a U.A.E. team that did not have any answer to Smart Gilas' mastery of the post.

The Gilas team scored at will early on in the post and prevented U.A.E. from scoring underneath the basket. Marcus Douthit, Asi Taulava and Kelly Williams made life hard for U.A.E. players who wanted to score inside. Mac Baracael led the Philippines in scoring with 15 points, followed by Marcus Douthit and Asi Taulava with 13 apiece, and Jayvee Casio who dropped 11 markers. All players of Smart Gilas scored in the one-sided affair.

Meanwhile, FIBA Asia Deputy Secretary General Hagop Khajirian said that "any player who acquired citizenship after the age of 16 is considered as naturalized player." I do not know how Smart Gilas would approach this rule, because according to the Philippine Constitution, Lutz and Lassiter are considered Filipino citizens. However, FIBA has its own interpretation of what a naturalized player is. They say Lutz and Lassiter obtained Philippine passports after the age of 16, thus making them naturalized Filipinos. Now I am curious to know if Kelly Williams, Asi Taulava, Gabe Norwood, Erik Menk, Mick Pennisi, Danny Seigle, etc had Philippine passports before the age of 16. I doubt that all of those players who donned the Philippine jersey obtained a passport before their 16th birthday (someone correct me if I'm wrong.) And two of those players I mentioned are currently playing for Smart Gilas in Wuhan.

Fans of Smart Gilas Pilipinas will surely follow the developments on Lutz and Lassiter's case. Let's all hope that other documents could convince FIBA to let these two players play.


Will Lutz and Lassiter Be Eligible to Play?

News broke out yesterday that Smart Gilas Pilipinas players Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter's eligibility were questioned by Lebanon. Whatever Lebanon's motivation is, this development is certainly a blow to the Philippine team.

According to Former FIBA Asia Sec-Gen Moying Martelino, Patrick Baumann is now reviewing the cases of Lutz and Lassiter. The decision whether they are eligible will come at game time.

Chot Reyes said they submitted the line-up last August, so the timing of the complaint is "Labo!" Philippine basketball fans are now on twitter anticipating the decision of FIBA. Game time is a t 6 p.m. Manila time, and all we can do now is pray for a favorable decision.

According to Chot Reyes' twitter account, FIBA declared Lutz and Lassiter ineligible.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Butiki Bullets: Monday August 8, 2011

  • The Petron Blaze Boosters didn't disappoint the basketball fans that tuned in to Game 1 of the PBA Finals. In a tightly contested end game, the Boosters turned to ol' reliable Danny Ildefonso, who nailed a buzzer beating mid range jumper to take game 1 for Petron.
  • The SMART-Gilas Pilipinas National Team are now looking like serious contenders to win the FIBA Asia Championships to be held in Wuhan, China. Smart-Gilas started their Jones Cup campaign with convincing wins over defending FIBA Asia Champions Iran and Chinese Taipei.
  • Ateneo de Manila continued to dominate Season 74 of the UAAP as they beat Far Eastern University to sweep the first round of the eliminations.
  • Patay Ang Butiki's very own Mikkel Bolante writes about former Talk N Text import Mo Baker for


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Constructing the ABL Beermen: A Patay Ang Butiki Wish List

Earlier this month, it was announced that the San Miguel Beermen would be joining the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) for its 3rd season that starts in January. Bobby Parks has been assigned to coach the squad, although no lineup has been announced.

That means we might still have time to put suggestions in.

It’s unclear at the moment where this SMB team stands in the continuity of the PBA franchise. Technically, the Petron Blaze Boosters are still the San Miguel Beermen, meaning they hold all of the past records and championships that the historic franchise achieved. Still, the ABL Beermen will still be carrying the name of the winningest franchise in PBA history. And as a fan of both the team and the PBA, it would be heartbreaking to see them come into the ABL and fail to dominate, much like the underachieving AirAsia Philippine Patriots did in the 2nd season where they struggled for most of the season before eventually falling to the Chang Thailand Slammers in the ABL Finals.

So while this wish list may seem a little like overkill, just remember that the Patriots are probably wishing they could get a do-over on their non-overkill roster.

The Beermen are said to be looking at college stars, ex-PBA players and current PBA players to fill the roster. Let’s take a look at the guys from each of those three categories that would look good on the San Miguel team. To add to that, it would be nice for the players to have some previous history with the franchise and some past success in the ABL couldn’t hurt either.

College Stars
The scheduling of the tournament in relation to the PBA Draft, and the new rules of the PBA that require local players to have played at least one conference in the D-League before being eligible for the draft, will disqualify many of the young talents from joining the team in the same way Nonoy Baclao and Elmer Espiritu joined the Patriots late in the inaugural tournament. However, there are a few options out there that would be intriguing for the ABL team.

1 Junemar Fajardo
The 6-10 center from the University of Cebu is one of those casualties of the D-League ruling and will be able to apply for the draft in 2012 at the earliest. Once Fajardo fulfills that requirement by playing in the 2nd conference of the D-League in October, the Beermen should swoop right in.

Fajardo is a legitimate big man with a storied history with SMART Gilas center Greg Slaughter. Fajardo and Slaughter met several times in the CESAFI, even sharing the MVP award in 2009 in a year where he posted the better statline while Slaughter led his team to the title. With Slaughter transferring last season, Fajardo led the UC Webmasters to their first CESAFI title while winning his second MVP in a row.

2 Ryan Buenafe
After being dropped from the Ateneo lineup before the UAAP season began, rumors ran rampant about the controversial Finals MVP joining different teams. Ateneo coach Norman Black claims Buenafe could rejoin the Blue Eagles next season, though, but it isn’t out of the question for him to turn pro despite not being eligible for the PBA just yet.

Buenafe has been touted as having the basketball IQ of a pro as early as his freshman year and it would be interesting to see if he can prove it in the ABL. As always, though, the big question mark with Buenafe is whether he is in shape or not, which might be more of a concern when he goes up against pros instead of student-athletes.

Ex-PBA Players
Most of the Filipino players in the ABL, and even some of the non-ASEAN imports, are veterans of our local pro league. The standards for local players are lower there, and PBA backups can be more than serviceable players in the regional tourney. The imports are relied on much more heavily, especially since there are two of them per team, and might be the most crucial selections in the roster.

1 Froilan Baguion
Baguion, who was a backup for San Miguel in the PBA for a year, had an unremarkable PBA career. But he’s a starting-caliber ABL point guard who finished 5th in assists (3.8 apg) and 9th in steals (1.6 spg) last season among all players, including the non-ASEAN imports.

More importantly, though, Baguion had been part of every champion ABL team so far. He was part of the inaugural champion Philippine Patriots before becoming an ASEAN import for the Chang Thailand Slammers alongside Patriots import Jason Dixon and beating the Patriots in two games in the Finals in which Baguion averaged 15 points and 2.5 assists to sink his former team. In either case, poaching the starting point guard of your toughest competition can’t be a bad thing for the Beermen.

2 Gabe Freeman
Freeman averaged 19.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals in his latest ABL stint, but he’s a player whose value goes beyond the stat sheet. The blue-collar forward can anchor a defense, create extra possessions and change a game with his boundless energy.

The last time the Beermen won a title in the PBA was in 2009 when Freeman and the locals survived a tough seven-game series against Ginebra. The last time a Philippine team won an ABL title was when Freeman served as one of the non-ASEAN imports for the Patriots in the first season of the league. Seeing as this team will be both a Philippine team in the ABL and a San Miguel team, a guy who was there for the last title of either seems to make perfect sense.

3 Jameel Watkins
Watkins was most recently seen by Filipino fans in the FIBA Asia Champion’s Cup held here as the import of the Jordan-ASU team that placed 5th in the tournament. He averaged 18.7 points, 8th best in the tournament and right between current SMART Gilas center Marcus Douthit (19.1) and former Gilas center CJ Giles (18.6), to go with 9.8 rebounds per game (7th best). Those are lofty standards to go by and Watkins passes with flying colors.

Watkins, too, was a former import of the SMB franchise in 2007-08, although the team was then known as the Magnolia Beverage Masters.

Current PBA Players
The third category would be curious because it’s unclear whether it refers to players with live contracts or if the team will target only free agents. But bringing in quality PBA talent would be huge for the ABL, who have so far only seen borderline talent. One or two legitimate rotation players from PBA teams would assure a dominant squad, but could be costly if forced to compete with PBA salaries.

1 Rey Guevarra
The 3rd pick in the last PBA Draft, Guevarra’s first year has been a struggle. Though opportunities were there, he hasn’t exactly earned the heavy minutes a high pick of his stature should. After the big trade that involved Danny Seigle, Dondon Hontiveros and Rabeh Al-Hussaini, among others, went down, he found himself scrapping for minutes with Joseph Yeo, Sunday Salvacion, Jojo Duncil and import Anthony Grundy in the Petron Blaze rotation.

Guevarra is definitely an underused talent who might need the significant court time to get back to his pre-injury form that made him a star in the NCAA and a prized SMART Gilas recruit, but maybe he could get that with the Beermen in a less competitive environment. The high-flying guard could conceivably revert back to the feared scorer he was when he averaged 15.7 points for the Letran Knights in his final year in the NCAA.

2 Danny Seigle
Okay, when I warned about overkill earlier, this is probably what I meant. Seigle, obviously, can still play. He’s averaging 16.5 points for the Air21 Express this conference, 5th best among locals. He also averages 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. This isn’t a potshot at Dynamite Danny in a he-needs-to-be-put-to-the-pasture kind of way.

Fact is, Danny S would be my pick as the quintessential Beerman of the 2000s. He may lag behind Danny Ildefonso in MVP trophies but the pair won six titles for the franchise between 1999 to 2005 with Seigle emerging the Finals MVP five out of the six times. Seigle in a jersey that isn’t San Miguel would be like Kobe wearing a non-Lakers jersey; there’s just something wrong about it.

Seigle would probably have to retire from the PBA to get out of his Air21 contract, and I doubt he’ll do that for anything less than the PBA max salary. But the SMC teams are known to be big spenders and it’s probably worth it just to see Seigle eventually retire with the team that direct-hired him back in late 90s.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Kobe’s Crazy Shines Through

Standing in the middle of the PBA Press Room with a microphone in hand, I was giddy with excitement as Talk N Text head coach Chot Reyes answered my question on who was to be his counterpart on the opposing bench on Ultimate All-Star Weekend.

“It will be the coaching debut,” Reyes began, “of their player-coach, Kobe Bryant.”

Now, I’m not a big fan of Bryant. But I’m a big enough basketball nut to know this was a crucial piece of information. The NBA Selection coming to Manila this weekend isn’t just going to be a team with Kobe; it was going to be Team Kobe. In the same way that Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics and, heck, the Ginebra teams of Robert Jaworski took on the personalities of their player-coaches, we can expect at least a little bit of the Black Mamba to rub off on this team. And that’s huge, because of one particular detail.

Kobe Bryant is crazy.

There’s plenty of documentation about how Mamba is perfectionist, to the point of it being maniacally so. After a regular season loss to the Miami Heat, Bryant spent over an hour in a nearly empty (the media types stayed behind, of course) American Airlines Arena going through his entire shooting routine as the Heat ballboys passed him the ball.

The guy obsesses about genius, studying the lives of the likes of Da Vinci and Daniel Day-Lewis. He considers Michael Jackson as his mentor, especially when it comes to the preparation, the breaking apart of every little miniscule detail that sets them apart from the rest of us. Bryant’s own words describe it best. “Because what (Jackson) did – and how he did it,” Kobe told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, “was psychotic.”

Oh, and let’s not forget about how his game, his mannerisms and even the way he talks in press conferences, is all textbook Michael Jordan. In fact, basketball has not seen a player as insanely competitive – as obsessed with winning – since Jordan himself.

And now, this. After posting on a social networking site that the representatives of the NBA players were requesting full scouting reports and videos on the players they would be facing here this weekend, Talk N Text assistant coach Josh Reyes confirmed that the visiting team is now asking for a practice session – one that their understandably busy touring schedule originally had no time for.

Really, Kobe? Full scouting reports and videos, and a practice session, for a pair of exhibition games in the Philippines?

The PBA Selection that Kobe and Co will be facing is a guard-heavy 16-man team with only two guys – Sonny Thoss and Rabeh Al-Hussaini – who are listed as taller than Bryant. I doubt either of them will see much of Bryant on them.

Smart Gilas Pilipinas, the National Team that the NBA players are also tasked to face, should be a greater challenge. It’s a team that has played together almost exclusively for the past few years now, and is backstopped by a 6’11 American that has been naturalized as a Filipino in Marcus Douthit. And while it has high hopes in the upcoming FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, this is still a country that has not won a medal in either the Asian Games or the FIBA Asia Championship since 1998.

And when it was initially announced during the presscon that the NBA players would not have a chance to hold a practice session, even Coach Chot admitted that that was a good thing, because staying competitive with the NBA squad would be tough enough as it is.

This is not to deride the Filipino teams. They have some of the best players in this country; some have even had the chance to play Division I ball in the US NCAA. But Kobe has 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose and four-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul on his side. I’m just saying, Mamba might be taking this trip a little too serious.

But that’s good for the fans here. Instead of an exhibition with little-to-no defense, sloppy turnovers off of fancy passes and too many dunks for any of them to seem memorable, we have a chance to see a real, honest-to-goodness basketball game.

One against a team led and coached by a guy competitive enough to want to spend the next few days poring over game tape of a league that an NBA D-Leaguer could dominate. But, hey, we expect nothing less from a consummate pro like Bryant.

That’s just Kobe being Kobe. Crazy and all.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Patay Ang Butiki Ep. 1

Patay Ang Butiki authors Niko and Mikkel Bolante are joined by Fire Quinito author Jaemark Tordecilla and ABS-CBN Sports' Toff Rada to talk about the PBA's winningest franchise, the San Miguel Beermen, and the crossroads it faces.

UPDATE: To those who are asking for an audio only version of the show, here it is:

You can download the MP3 file here.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PBA Power Rankings: Week 1

Okay, so we aren't exactly on Week 1. In fact, we're practically halfway through the elimination round. Still, better late than never. So here we go with the first of our weekly rankings for the conference.

1 Smart Gilas Nationals (4-0)
The youngsters from the controversial Smart Gilas team have not disappointed in their second guest stint in the PBA. The Nationals are the only unbeaten team in the field, handed elite teams like TNT and Alaska their only losses, and are coming from an incredible 109-68 beatdown of San Miguel where they made 16 three-pointers. The Gilas players shoot a lot of threes, even when the shot isn’t falling, and the fact that head coach Rajko Toroman lets them keep taking it is a testament to how hard they work on that shot. And when it falls the way it did last Saturday against the Beermen, there isn’t much opponents can do about it. And while Marcus Douthit will get most of the credit for the dominating performance of the Nationals so far, guys like Mark Barroca, Chris Lutz and even Japeth Aguilar are quietly putting up extremely efficient performances in the time they spend on the floor, contributing greatly to the 4-0 start.

2 Talk N Text Tropang Texters (4-1)
The All-Filipino champs stumbled in their opening assignment against Smart Gilas but have found their flow, winning their last four games, three of them convincingly. What you have to like about TNT is the way they win their games. They can win with great offense, twice breaching Offensive Efficency levels of 110 points per 100 possessions. And they can win with suffocating defense twice holding teams to below Defensive Efficiencies of below 79. They’re a top-2 defensive team this conference (behind just Gilas) and, if you take away the loss to the top defensive team in the league, would be 2nd in Offensive Efficiency as well. And they’re doing this while nursing injuries to Jason Castro and Jared Dillinger.

3 Alaska Aces (4-1)
The Aces, like the Texters, would be unbeaten if not for the top-ranked Nationals. Unlike the Texters, who have been cruising to double-digit wins, Alaska has mostly survived close games, beating the SMC trifecta of Ginebra (2 points), San Miguel (1 point) and B-Meg (6 points) by small margins. We’ll see if their experience in winning close games will come in handy for them in the postseason, although they’d probably want to have a few more blowouts and get some chances to rest their stars. Joe Devance (37.4 minutes per game), LA Tenorio (33.4), Sonny Thoss (32.2) and Cyrus Baguio (30.8) are all playing very heavy minutes this conference.

4 Ginebra Gin Kings (2-2)
The Gin Kings have had an interesting conference in that they’ve been destroying the weaker teams, beating Meralco and Powerade by an average of 16 points per game, while dropping close decisions to the better teams. That puts their pace-adjusted point differential up to +6.1, just a shade behind Alaska’s +6.5. Thing is, some advanced stats advocates say that winning or losing a close game is usually a coin toss and that the ability to blow out teams might be more valuable. If that’s the case, Ginebra is in a pretty good spot right now. The burly Nate Brumfield has been one of the more impressive imports this conference, leading the Gin Kings in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

5 Rain or Shine Elastopainters (3-1)
The Yeng Guiao era kicked off with 3 straight wins, but is it just an illusion caused by an easy early schedule? Two of their wins came against Meralco and Powerade, two of the easier teams in the league. And when they faced their first true test in TNT? Rain or Shine was crushed by 21 points. Things won’t get much easier as the Elastopainters count the Nationals, the Gin Kings and the Aces as 3 of their next 4 assignments. Strangely, Ronjay Buenafe has averaged only 10.8 minutes for the team, despite being one of the players Guiao traded for from his old team. ROS is one of only three teams with an Offensive Efficiency below 100 this conference, and maybe getting Buenafe into the flow of things could help get that figure up.

6 BMEG Derby Ace Llamados (2-3)
BMEG has been pretty unlucky with health, losing Rico Maierhofer to an injury while also playing without fellow beanpole Rafi Reavis. The good news is that James Yap is turning it on of late, averaging 25 points per 36 minutes on a .648 TS% in his last three games. Also good is the fact that their point differential, adjusted for pace, is a 5th best +4.6 and almost 5 points higher than that of #6 Rain or Shine. Even better news is that Kerby Raymundo played his first game back last weekend and should be an important figure for this team once he gets back into game shape.

7 Air21 Express (1-3)
The Express may have lost their prized rookies in the big San Miguel trade, but it’s hard to see how the deal doesn’t make this team better in the short term. Dondon Hontiveros is one of the best guards in the PBA, Dorian Pena is one of the top rebounders and despite what most people think about Danny Seigle, this guy still has it in him to post big numbers. If only they didn’t trade Buenafe, Beau Belga, Ronnie Matias, Erick Rodriguez and 2 first round picks to net Jay-R Reyes and Reed Juntilla prior to the conference, they could probably be more competitive.

8 San Miguel Beermen (1-3)
On the flip side of the big A21-SMB trade, the Beermen have put themselves into position to be very good for a long time, netting Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao. For now, though, the team is experiencing growing pains, including a ridiculous 41-point debacle to Smart Gilas. That Rabeh-Jay Washington combo up front will become a nightmare to defend as both guys can score down low and from the midrange. Both currently have similar modest statlines per 36 minutes, just 16 points on .470-.480 TS% and 7 boards, as they get used to playing beside each other.

9 Meralco Bolts (0-4)
The Bolts are the only winless team remaining, but they have the 7th best efficiency differential (if you haven’t been paying attention, that’s just point differential, but pace-adjusted) in the league. They lost big early but have given stiff challenges to SMB and TNT in their most recent games. They did a great job upgrading their talent before the conference, acquiring Sol Mercado and Reynel Hugnatan, and probably just need a little more time to work in the new players. Plus, new import Champ Oguchi looked like an absolute beast, scoring 43 points on .758 TS% and grabbing 11 rebounds in a three-point squeaker against the Texters.

10 Powerade Tigers (1-4)
Yes, the Tigers have a notch in the win column. And yes, they aren’t the worst team in efficiency differential either (that’s SMB by the way, but I’m guessing that 41-point blowout somewhat skews the stats a bit). So why are they last place? Well, I’m just having trouble trusting a team that consistently loses all of their games by double-figures. At least they have the top scoring local scorer in the PBA. Gary David is averaging 24.2 points per game on a very efficient .603 TS% - despite the team being dead last in Offensive Efficiency at just 91 points per 100 possessions.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Butiki Bullets: Thursday March 10

  • Meralco is replacing import Tony Dandridge with Chamberlain Oguchi, a former college teammate of the Phoenix Suns' Aaron Brooks with a reputation as a shooter. While I agree with Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio that they need a shooter to spread the floor for Mac Cardona and Sol Mercado, I think they could really use a more defensive-minded import capable of protecting the paint. The Bolts have a really ugly Defensive Rating (that is, points allowed per 100 possessions) of 107.5 and have combined for only 4 blocks in three games. There are 7 local players who have blocked 4 or more this conference for other teams.
  • Did Danny Ildefonso use 'The Secret' to acquire Rabeh Al-Hussaini for the San Miguel Beermen? Mico Halili quotes Al-Hussaini: "First time makalaban ko San Miguel as a rookie, kausap ako ni Danny Ildefonso. Sabi niya, 'Sana sa amin ka na lang.' Tapos second time, nakalaro ko na naman siya, sabi niya, 'Alam mo dapat sa amin ka na lang talaga eh.' Sabi ko, 'Idol 'wag naman ganyan parang hindi pa yata pwede.' Tapos itong last game namin, nung tinalo namin sila, sabi niya sa akin pabiro, 'Huwag ka na maglaro, sa amin ka na.' Tapos unang practice ko with San Miguel, sabi niya sa akin, 'Sabi ko sa'yo eh, dito ka mapupunta eh."
  • If you haven't been paying attention, this has been a really exciting conference. With only 6 playoff spots up for grabs, and just a single round-robin tourney to earn it, every single game matters. Then add to that the replacement of whipping boys Barako Bull by the currently unbeaten Smart Gilas team, and the blockbuster SMB-Air21 trade and suddenly, the league has become so much more competitive. 3 weeks in and we've already seen six games decided by three points or less, and a couple of upsets including a pre-trade Air21 win over San Miguel, a Powerade victory over B-Meg and an early shocker by Gilas over recent champs Talk N Text. Exciting stuff here, folks.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Butiki Bullets: Tuesday March 8

  • Among the teams that are replacing their imports are, no surprise, the Air21 Express. Jeremy Robinson averaged just 13.7 points per game, behind Dondon Hontiveros (24 points in his first game for Air21), Josh Urbiztondo (15.0 ppg) and Danny Seigle (14.0 in his debut) on his own team. He'll be replaced by Alpha Bangura, a former D-Leaguer who averaged 18.9 points in 26 games with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 08-09. How good is that? Only 13 players are currently averaging better than that this season and that includes the short stints of NBA players Terrence Williams (of the Houston Rockets) and James Johnson (of the Toronto Raptors). And for further reference, former Alaska import Diamon Simpson, who averaged 26.5 points in the PBA, only averaged 15.5 ppg for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in his lone D-League season.
  • I find it funny how the PBA announcers are now calling Macmac Cardona "Mark" and Gabby Espinas "Gabriel" instead of the names we're used to. Apparently, this was a request of Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio. I wonder if this is isolated just to the Mac and Gabby or if this "formal name" thing extends to the other guys like Paulasi, Nelbert, Florendo and Riego.