The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and Denver Nuggets

As a basketball fan, one of the most enjoyable things for me is to compare PBA teams with NBA teams. And as a huge Ginebra and Nuggets fan, I saw similarities not only between the lineups of the two teams, but also how they fared during the last games of their respective seasons. So before you say “Wuuttt?,” try reading this entire post first. You might be surprised to find out how similar these two teams are.

Just like how the Lakers were favorites to win the Western Conference in the NBA, the Beermen were the top pick to run away with the Fiesta Cup this year with their stacked lineup (nope, the Beermen aren’t the Lakers of the PBA). As for the Gin Kings, it could not get any worse. They started the conference with a 1-5 W–L record. The Nuggs struggled at the start of the 2008-2009 season to, although had a slightly better 1-3 start. The fate of both teams, though, were about to take a sudden U-turn after the arrival of one player. For the Gin Kings, it was David Noel. For the Nuggets, it was Chauncey Billups.

The Gin Kings finally picked their game up and finished the elims with an 8-6 record. Although they had the same record W–L card with Rain or Shine and Burger King, Barangay Ginebra got second place because they had a far higher quotient than Yeng Guiao’s boys, and they beat Norwood and friends two out of three times, the last being a playoff tiff for the 2nd seed.

As for the Nuggets, they ALSO finished the regular season tied with two teams in terms of wins and losses (54-28): the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers. However, the second seed was awarded to Denver because they had a better in-conference record than the Blazers, and they beat the Spurs twice out of three times during the regular season. Creeped out yet?

Once the playoffs started, the Nuggets reached the WCF with ease, going 8-2 including a 58-point beating of the Hornets in Round 1. Just wow. That winning margin is even bigger than when I play NBA Live, in EASY MODE. Anyway, Ginebra did the same with Rain or Shine, easily dispatching them in six games, including a 114-71 beating during their playoff game to determine who gets the second seed.

If you think that was twilight zone-ish, let’s take a look at the players, shall we?

This is just a comparison between the players from their latest seasons in the PBA and NBA, ON THE COURT. Everything else that happened off the court and before the 2008-2009 NBA and PBA seasons weren’t included and compared. I only considered how they played against the players only from their respective leagues, particularly in each team’s final series of the season.

David Noel and Carmelo Anthony

  • Both are natural SFs who can play both Forward positions, although Noel plays more PF than ‘Melo.
  • Both are talented offensive players who make scoring look so easy.
  • Both can get to the rim easily but likes to hang around more in the perimeter.
  • Both are bulky SFs.
  • Both can handle the rock well and even play Point-forward when needed.
  • Both players pass out of the double team quite well. Melo wasn’t like that before last year.
  • Both are high flyers who don’t dunk much in games (Melo also participated in a slam dunk contest before joining the NBA, but he didn’t win). Even if they do, the dunks aren’t of the flashy kind.
  • Both are average defenders.

WCF Game 6 and PBA Finals Game 7 performances

David Noel and Carmelo Anthony

Noel and Anthony

Just like Melo’s performance in Game 6 of the WCF, Ginebra’s supposed-to-be top player came up very short in the deciding game. Although Melo had 25 points in that game, he struggled mightily the entire game, a recurring theme after his 2 breakout games in Games 1 and 2 of the WCF.  In the Fiesta Conference Finals, Noel also only had two breakout games. The aforementioned Game 5 and Game 3 where he had a triple-double (32 points, 10 boards, 11 dimes, and only 2 TOs). He might be a team-first guy, but he should have been more assertive in Game 7 last night. Instead, he hung around the 3-point line just like in the other games, even if his shots weren’t falling (o-5 3s). This is even more frustrating considering that Noel is probably the most talented offensive guy from both teams. But just like Melo, he stayed on the perimeter too much and when his shots wouldn’t fall, he couldn’t get anything else going offensively.

Jayjay Helterbrand and Chauncey Billups

Helterbrand and Billups

Helterbrand and Billups

This is a bit tricky because The Fast has been part-Iverson, part-Billups this year. He still commands the team, but he has played a lot of shooting guard this year, probably the most in his career. But overall, I think his game last conference was more like Billups than AI. So here are their similarities.

  • Both are big and strong PGs that can finish in the paint.
  • Both have the tendency to take 3-pt shots from way beyond the arc.
  • Both like to, and can, hit the step-back 3 with regularity. They usually do this when the shot clock is almost zero, but they just like to do this move in general.
  • Both also like to take a 3 or stop-and-pop in transition and fastbreaks.
  • Both were huge in the clutch last year, especially in their respective playoff series.
  • On a non-basketball note, both players were born in 1976.
  • Also, both players injured their hamstring late in the playoffs, probably costing their teams the championship trophy.  (Billups against Orlando in the 2008 NBA Playoffs and Helterbrand against SMB in the 2009 PBA Finals).
  • On a non-2009 season note, both players were selected to take part in their respective countries’ National Team training pool in 2008.
  • Both were the top and most consistent guard of their respective teams last year.
  • Both were also the second-best, at times the best, player in their respective teams.
  • How about this for coincidence? Both players totaled 109 points in their last playoff series of 2009 (but in 6 games for Billups and in 7 games for Helterbrand).
  • Some more useless trivia, Chauncey used to rock the nos. 1 and 3 in Detroit, while Jayjay wears no. 13 for the Gin Kings.

Ronald Tubid and JR Smith

Ronald Tubid and JR Smith

Tubid and Smith

  • Both are athletic wingmen.
  • Both primarily play the 2-guard position.
  • Both can start for any team in their respective leagues but usually comes off the bench with their respective teams.
  • Both put the SHOOT in Shooting Guard.
  • Both are probably firm believers that “a bad shot is better than a turnover.”
  • Like Melo and Noel, both are natural scorers who can get to the rim with ease but prefer to take the outside shot.
  • Both can get crazy and out of control on offense.
  • Both are crowd favorites, especially when they get crazy and emotional during big runs.
  • Both have participated in slam dunk contests in the pros (good dunks but disappointing results).
  • Both are gamechangers, negatively and positively.

You could argue that I should have compared Cyrus Baguio with JR instead. But Baguio is too calm and controlled on the court. They aren’t bad qualities, but they aren’t J-Swish material. I guess this makes Cyrus Baguio Sonny Weems? Just kidding.

Sunday Salvacion and Linas Kleiza

Salvacion and Kleiza

Salvacion and Kleiza

  • Both are primarily 3-pt-shooting Small Forwards.
  • Both were known as big-time scorers before joining the pros.
  • Both have limited in-between games.
  • Both don’t dribble the ball much.
  • Both players like to shoot 3s from the corner but rarely from the top.

The main difference between these two is that Sunday is a quality defender. LK should try to be one too, if he wants to be a regular starter for the Nuggs just like Sunday is for the Gin Kings.

Eric Menk and Kenyon Martin

Menk and Martin

Menk and Martin

  • Both were tremendous finishers in the paint during their early years in the league.
  • Both have been injury-prone the last few years but were relatively healthy last year.
  • Both can occasionally hit shots from the outside, even from 3-pt territory.
  • Both are shaky free throw shooters.
  • Both went from top option in their younger years to an almost forgotten man on offense.
  • Both like to finish with their left hand around the basket.
  • Both like to spin (Menk’s is much slower) in the paint then finish with a semi-hook.

Billy Mamaril and Nene

Mamaril and Nene

Mamaril and Nene

  • Both are bruising, physical Centers who are also quick and agile.
  • Both are effective defensive players.
  • Both can hit shots within 15 feet.
  • Both players finish strong around the hoop, especially after a drop-off pass.
  • Both are also foul-prone, usually getting into foul trouble early.

Paul Artadi and Anthony Carter

Artadi and Carter

Artadi and Carter

  • Both are reliable backup Point Guards that used to start regularly the season before last season.
  • Both like to push the tempo as often as possible.
  • Both can be erratic on the break, especially when deciding whether to shoot or pass.
  • Opposing teams play off them because of their shaky jumpers. Both are also inconsistent from the FT line.
  • But on a related note, both players will take the open shot if left very wide open, which is often the case.
  • Both players like to pump fake then drive to the hoop either for a wild layup or a drop-off pass. Artadi and AC usually do these when defenders quickly get out on them on the perimeter after being left wide open there.
  • Both are very pesky defenders.
  • Both like to gamble for steals by going for the poke or strip on defense, both when helping or defending their man one-on-one.
  • Both get most of their fouls from said poking on defense.
  • However, both are also very sneaky defenders, particularly when guarding players a lot bigger than them.

Willie Wilson and Dahntay Jones

  • Both are asked to defend the opposing team’s top perimeter player.
  • Both won’t give you much offensively.
  • On offense, both players do their “damage” inside the pain.
  • Both come from elite basketball programs in college.
  • Both have no outside shot whatsoever.
  • Both were born in 1980: not basketball-related but just couldn’t resist. Byane-yo.

Wilson became Dahntay Jones after Uichico made him part of the rotation in Game 3. Wilson was assigned to defend SMB’s top gun in Jay Washington, just like how Jones’ main (and probably only) role was to defend LA’s best offensive weapon in Kobe Bryant. In the first two games of the series, J-Wash was absolutely eating the Gin Kings’ defense alive. He averaged 18 ppg in those two games and shot 55% from the field, including 50% from deep.

Through the first three games:

Games played     PPG     MPG     FG %

1 (Game 3)            8           16        100 (2-2)        WILSON

3                             19.3      34.7   48.8 (20-41)   WASHINGTON

Wilson and Jones

Wilson and Jones

Washington’s 22 points in Game 3 is a bit misleading because compared with how efficient he got his points in the first two games, he shot just 42% from the field in that game, including an abysmal 5-16 from 2pt range after Wilson was unleashed. More importantly, Ginebra won that game 116-103.

In Game 4, Wilson took over Sunday Salvacion’s spot in the starting lineup and averaged 27 mpg since, including 33 mins in the clincher. During that same 4-game span, Washington’s production dropped immensely, averaging just 7 ppg in 23.8 mins. It was obvious to Siot that Wilson has figured Washington’s game out.

Games 4 to 7.

Games played    PPG          MPG        FG %

4                              5.25        27            41.2 (7-17)   WILSON

4                               7             23.8         37.5 (9-24)   WASHINGTON

It is also important to note that Washington never reached double figures ever since Wilson joined the starting lineup. Washington’s production became so bad that Siot went as far as to replace him in the starting lineup, opting to go with Pingris in Games 6 and 7. That was when the wheels of Uichico’s plans started to come off.

Rafi Reavis and Chris Andersen

Reavis and Andersen

Reavis and Andersen

  • Both are long, lanky and relatively athletic.
  • Both are pretty much in the game because of their defense.
  • Both are limited offensively.
  • Miscellaneous trivia: both have played with two teams in the PBA and NBA, respectively.
  • Both are effective shotblockers.
  • Because of their thin frame, both players get easily pushed around in the paint so they primarily rely on their shotblocking to defend and on their length to get rebounds.

I guess that’s about it for the main guys. This post took about 3 weeks to complete so pardon the delay. If you’re wondering where’s Intal and Lanete, well Denver also had Jason Hart and Renaldo Balkman on their roster. Ha! And as for Baguio, well Sonny Weems also played some games for the Nuggets last year. Just kidding. But seriously, the Nuggets said that Weems was the most naturally athletic guy they’ve had in a long time. Isn’t Baguio that guy for the Gin Kings? And no, don’t say it’s Tubid.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this lengthy read.

One response to “The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and Denver Nuggets

  1. Cazare Particulari Mamaia

    Good post! We are linking to this great content on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

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