Sunday, April 5, 2009

Powerade-RP Team Shows Toughness Against HoopDreamz

Earlier tonight, me and J-MYX watched the Powerade-RP Team's tune up game against Australia's HoopDreamz team. The attribute of this team that really caught my eye was that this team has the swagger of a national team that has gone through wars in FIBA International. I am not gonna talk about what they did right or wrong, or what system they need in order to succeed (i think J-Myx is doing that right now.) I am just going to point out what these guys have that previous teams didn't. This year's team has a toughness that was lacking maybe 4 years ago. They weren't afraid to bang it up with the bigger players from Australia. Kerby Raymundo showed that he is capable of finishing even when hit hard in a play. And the whole team showed throughout the game that even when roughed up(maybe in the future by teams like Argentina), they wouldn't be fazed.

When the team walked out of the dugout, you can feel the confidence oozing out. This team isn't a team with the best players from the 10-team roster of the PBA. But this is the toughest and the most international-ready team the PBA could send out to represent out flag!


Breaking Down the Powerade Pilipinas Basketball Team

We just got our first look at the Powerade Pilipinas Basketball Team, after a two-game series with the Australian Hoopdreamz Team. With each player given some decent burn by coach Yeng Guiao, first impressions have begun to form for each player on the all-PBA contingent. Here's how each player looked.

C Asi Taulava, Coca-Cola Tigers

Team Captain Asi Taulava was a rock, as expected. His job description is simple. Control the paint on defense, hit the glass hard, and make sure the team is not intimidated by the physical play of international ball. He brought all that. He showed how to never back down when he got into an altercation with the rugby-playing, 7-foot Samoan monster Patrick Piliae. Asi also served as a great example for his teammates on how to be tough both mentally and physically. The only minus would be the two missed free throws in near the end of regulation in the second game that almost cost the Powerade Pilipinas Basketball Team the game, but overall, he did well.

F Kerby Raymundo, Purefoods Giants

Co-captain Kerby Raymundo set a high standard for himself early on by leading his team in scoring both games. He averaged 18.5 points per game in the series. He showed himself capable of carrying his team as he repeatedly made big shots to will the team to victory in the second game. He also showed he can take a hit while still making shots. More importantly, he showed heart. His spectacular 24-point performance in game 2 highlighted heart over talent: he simply wanted the win more than anybody else in the arena. Excellent performance by Kerby.

G Willie Miller, Alaska Aces

While the superstar veteran Willie Miller lacked the stats to back it up - he only scored four points over the weekend-long series - he finished with a respectable showing. He wasn't much of a factor in the first game, visibly struggling to find his role, but he earned the trust of Guiao enough so that he ran the point in the tight fourth and overtime periods of the second game. He exhibited his veteran guile and calming presence to help his team withstand every Australian run.

F Kelly Williams, Sta Lucia Realtors

Though 'Machine Gun Kelly' was held silent on the offensive end (6 points in two games), Williams was one of the notable players this weekend. He played great defense, fought hard for every loose ball and was tearing rebounds away from the visiting Australians. Guiao left him in the game to wreak havoc with Arwind Santos in the exciting endgame on the defensive end and he delivered. I think Kelly was underutilized, though, and that Guiao may still be a little unsure how to properly utilize his talent and athleticism (hint: throw more lobs at him in the open-court). Serviceable performance but there may be a lot more he can be doing for this club.

G Jayjay Helterbrand, Barangay Ginebra Kings

There isn't a lot to complain about Helterbrand's game. He plays a very specific role on this team, and that's to hit the outside shot. He didn't get a boatload of minutes, but showed enough in his limited stint to tell that he'll do that job well.

G James Yap, Purefoods Giants

Crowd darling James Yap was, to be honest, a little underwhelming. Though he did score 11 points in the opening game blowout, he did very little of note. He scored only four points in the second game and seemed to struggle with his drives, especially when there's contact involved. Even his outside stroke wasn't humming as it normally does. James, I feel, is the kind of person who can thrive on a system based on him. When he's the focal point of the offense, and everything is geared to make it easier for him, he is exceptional at putting points on the board. When he is expected to play within a system that spreads the offense more, he seems to struggle a little. He probably gets a low rating for his play this weekend, but only because expectations are a bit higher than for other players.

C Sonny Thoss, Alaska Aces

Sonny Thoss was interesting because this was his national team debut. He plays a similar role to Asi, and played similarly tough. He showed grit when he entered a shoving match with visitor Anthony Susnjara. He repeatedly got the short end of the referees' whistles when he was called for four fouls in a span of about 2 minutes in the second game. Regardless, he kept himself on the floor and was the one who finished the overtime period and the game at the center spot. He also showed good hands in his passing game, definitely a plus. Thoss was one of the guys who played better than expected; a very good performance for Sonny.

G/F Arwind Santos, Burger King Titans

Arwind Santos was, for the most part, frustrating on offense. He was missing shots and turning the ball over so much that you almost didn't mind missing his great defense just so you can sit him on the bench. In the second game of the series, though, his awesome defense was on the display that you HAD to have the ballhawking Santos on the floor. It ended up paying off as he and Gabe Norwood combined for a key forced turnover and fastbreak that all but sealed the deal for the Nationals. His offense showed up in the overtime period, but it's very clear that his value lays exclusively on the other end of the floor. His defense is simply stifling even at a higher level, and it makes me very curious to see what he can do in the international contests.

G Ryan Reyes, Sta Lucia Realtors

The team was very good when it was able to get out in the open court, and a lot of that had to do with this guy. Reyes is always looking to push the ball, and was very successful in doing so. His ability to get the team opportunities to get on the break was key in building big leads in both games, and I would not be surprised if Reyes ended up being one of the most important pieces on this team. He may be the key to bringing out the best in his teammates, particularly Kelly and Gabe Norwood.

G/F Gabe Norwood, Rain or Shine Elastopainters

Gabe's athleticism was on display all weekend long, as he had several chances to get out and run and jump out of the building. His versatility was also very impressive. He was a playmaker, a finisher, a tough defender, a rebounder, a shooter, a slasher - anything his team needed him to be. Positive impact for Gabe when he was on the floor, and I would have loved to see more minutes for him.

G Cyrus Baguio, Burger King Titans

Cyrus was also very impressive in the open court, and had his memorable moments. Not enough of them to entrust major minutes, though. He looked undersized and just wasn't in control for the most part. I think he can carve a niche as a great energy guy off the bench for this squad though.

F Ranidel de Ocampo, Talk and Text Tropang Texters

Ranidel plays the role of the enforcer. He plays good defense (that comes with some spectacular blocks) and brings size and toughness. He is not only not averse to contact, but he is a little bit of an instigator. He's not afraid to play it rough, especially when his teammates are getting a little roughed up themselves. Definitely a great guy to have around on the team, even if he won't really dominate.

F/C Mick Pennisi, San Miguel Beermen

Mick is a tough professional who can hang and bang with the bigs. He also brings his trademark sweet shot that sends opponent defenses scrambling. Again, he's probably not a big minutes kind of guy but he will be ready to step in and contribute whenever Coach Yeng calls his number. Solid performance this weekend with 10 points in two games.

G/F Jared Dillinger, Talk and Text Tropang Texters

Rookie Jared Dillinger is a real wild card on the team. Right now, he looks too raw to be very productive. In fact, Australia seemed to make decent runs when Jared was on the floor. He did have his moments though, where he seemed strong enough to take it to the hole consistently. If he can keep his turnovers down, there is no doubt Guiao will try to find minutes for the kid (considering Guiao's penchant for fielding his entire roster every game). We have to keep an eye on his development, though, because by the time the tournaments come rolling along, he might become much better than many of the other players on this team.

Considering that these were the first two games of this squad, I think Coach Yeng Guiao did a pretty good job. He's obviously still working out a serviceable rotation for the team and these two games will go a long way in deciding that. Everyone got minutes and in the end, the Powerade Pilipinas Basketball Team went home with two Ws. Definitely still a long way to go but as first impressions go, this one was pretty good.