Before anything else, congratulations to the San Miguel Beermen. It took them 4 long years to get back on top, but they did it. I’m a Ginebra fan and the Beermen made it painful for me to watch Game 7. I’d like to particularly give kudos to four Beermen who I had fun watching in this series.
- Congrats to Ildefonso, who made me feel somewhat nostalgic watching him running and finishing fast breaks with his left hand. Marc Pingris loves you very much. Extra points for looking like this guy.
- Congrats to Mike Cortez who came just in time to revert to his old form, with an even deadlier jumpshot.
- Congrats to Jonas Villanueva, who was named the Finals MVP in just his second year in the league, leading a team of veteran superstars. Wow! He played just one year in the UAAP right? (Although I think he was in FEU’s Team B for many years before making it to Team A).
- Congrats to Olsen Racela (Is he the oldest player in the league right now?). Although I find his tough guy act on the court to be very annoying and pretentious (Jimmy Alapag, anyone?), he’s still a class act off the court.
As for the Gin Kings…
What the hell happened to them? After a disappointing Game 6, they found a way to be even more disappointing in Game 7, except for Jayjay Helterbrand. He did everything he could to keep his team within striking distance ON A BAD HAMSTRING. I don’t care if Mico Halili and Jason Webb keeps mentioning that his production drops off dramatically in the fourth quarter of every game. He finished Game 7 with 25 pts, 7 asts, 4 rebs and only 2 TOs in 33 mins. Did I mention that he was playing with a BAD HAMSTRING? He also hit all 8 of his FTs, something the rest of his teammates didn’t do.
If you’re wondering what happened to David Noel, the same guy who torched the Beermen with 6 treys in Game 5, well he finished Game 7 with a grand total of 8 (!!!) points on 3-11 shooting. Yeah sure he had 15 boards, but he also had 6 TOs. That’s the most by any player from both sides. I know I should be kind to Noel. He was, after all, the main guy responsible for turning Ginebra’s conference around. But no. His performance in the last game of the 34th season of the PBA was totally unacceptable. He’s too talented offensively to not take over a game as crucial as Game 7 of a championship series. Was he tired? Probably. He’s been playing over 40 mpg the entire series. But this is the PBA, not the NBA where rest days are scarce. Instead of hanging around the perimeter majority of the time, he should have been driving to the hoop trying to dunk on foul machine Gabe Freeman each possession.
I don’t know what kind of voodoo Siot Tanquincen has over his former mentor Jong Uichico, but SMB repeatedly forced a Ginebra turnover each time Uichico’s boys came out of a timeout. And that was a recurrent theme throughout the game. Uichico did his best to quell each SMB run with those timely timeouts, but I guess Tanquincen’s was hell-bent on showing Uichico who the better coach is.
Sunday Salvacion’s ejection in the first quarter was probably a bigger blow to Ginebra than expected. With the entire team firing blanks from the perimeter all game (3-15 3pt shooting), the effects of missing your team’s best 3pt shooter were magnified.
So what else could Jong Uichico have done besides calling timeouts everytime SMB threatened to pull away? He was awfully calm in his interview at the half despite his team showing signs of lifelessness in the first 24 minutes of play.
- Well he could have at least given Paul Artadi some court burn. Did he get injured in Game 3? I’m not sure. But in the first two games of the series, he was giving them 12 ppg in just 13.5 mpg, going 5-10 from deep. Lanete had one big game (Game 5, 14 pts, 15 mins, 3-5 3pts), and most of those came in the first half where he was 3-3 from 3pt land. But if you take out that game, Lanete averaged 12 mpg, 3 ppg and 0.8 apg on 26% FG shooting (6-23). I like Lanete’s controlled craziness on the court but those figures wouldn’t cut it in a championship series, especially if you become the team’s main point guard after the guy you should be backing up suddenly disappears after Game 3.
- How about using Cyrus Baguio as a facilitator more? This is a guy who repeatedly shredded defenses during his time as the main guy for Red Bull Barako. We all know that he is a tremendous finisher once he gets in the paint. He can even hit the midrange jumper occasionally to keep defenses honest. Heck, he even looks like the missing link between the evolution of Vinci from PnE to Piolo Pascual, which is irrelevant but still worth noting. So why was he roaming on the perimeter looking to spot up most of the time? I know that he has a tendency to force the issue, leading to offensive fouls once he gets in the paint and does his spinning moves, but Baguio might just be a more suitable backcourt partner for Helterbrand right now if they plan to use Jayjay as a 2-guard.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed watching a series that pitted two of the most popular and historic franchise in the league. You know it’s going to be a packed house each game when Ginebra is in the Finals. One time, I tried to get tickets for a Ginebra Finals game right after Game 1 had just ended. I asked if they still had even bleacher tickets for Game 5 or 6 or even 7. And the lady said that they were all sold out! So yeah, I never tried again. I just ignored Quinito Henson’s clichés and Richard del Rosario’s recycled jokes and enjoyed the game.
Many people have written off the PBA, saying no one watches the games, especially live, anymore and that it isn’t as exciting as it used to be during the Crispa-Toyota days. But it’s games like these that remind us that the PBA can still be exciting. For the lazy guy who only watches at home, it’s the crowd that makes PBA games exciting. No offense, but that’s probably why it gets painful for me to watch games of Sta. Lucia Realty or Coca-Cola Tigers. Even if they reach the finals and flush out all their diehard fans to the Astrodome, I still might (haven’t tried) be able to get tickets 10 minutes before their Game 7.
I’ll post the box scores from Games 1 to 7 later. I’ll also tally the scores and post averages (you’re welcome). But no PER and all that complex sophisticated shiznit. Too lazy and too complicated.
Meanwhile, enjoy the offseason. Sure na ba si Japeth na papadraft?