Coneheads

Malate, Manila
July 24, 2015
Coneheads

I’ve never been a fan of the Triangle Offense.
But I loved the way Tex Winter and Phil Jackson wielded it to win six NBA championships with Michael Jordan and the Bulls and win five more with the Los Angeles Lakers.
I also loved the way, Tim Cone brought it to the Philippines and won 18 PBA championships, most of it with Alaska Milk and the rest with Purefoods.
The reason for my disdain of the Triangle is its complexity.
I hated it more when Jeffrey Cariaso brought it to Ginebra and failed miserably.
The truth is, I wanted it to work. Sadly, it didn’t. Partly because Ginebra management never gave Cariaso a chance to develop it. Or perhaps it just didn’t fit with Ginebra. Heck, any system, even the no-system, will not work with Ginebra if our restless San Miguel bosses keep changing coaches. For any system to work, it will need time.
Especially the Triangle, which I consider one of the most complex, if not the most complex, basketball systems ever formulated.
To love or hate the Triangle, one should understand it first.
So let’s do a Triangle 101.
The Triangle Offense’s basic ideas were initially established by Hall of Fame coach Sam Barry at the University of Southern California. His system was later refined by former Houston Rockets and Kansas State University basketball head coach Tex Winter, who played for Barry in the late 1940s. Winter also served as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls in the 1980s and 1990s and was also an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000s.
The system’s most important feature is the sideline triangle created by the center, who stands at the low post, the forward at the wing, and the guard at the corner. The team’s other guard stands at the top of the key and the weak-side forward is on the weak-side high post — together forming the “two-man game.” The goal of the offense is to fill those five spots, which creates good spacing between players and allows each one to pass to four teammates. Every pass and cut has a purpose and everything is dictated by the defense.
In essence, Jackson won championships with it with the Bulls mixing the Triangle with Jordan’s creativity, clutch shooting and desire. He also had Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant when he won five titles with the Lakers.
As for Cone, he wielded it with Alaska using Johnny Abarrientos, Jojo Lastimosa, Bong Hawkins and Poch Juinio as his magic wands. Heck, Ginebra fans were victims of the Triangle, which may have been the reason of my hatred the same way my Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs fell victims to the Bulls and Lakers.
But can Cone be successful with it Ginebra?
I hope it will and Ginebra management gives him time make it flourish with the Kings. Because the Triangle is no simple matter. For weak teams, it will be like a Bermuda Triangle where players get lost in its intricacy.

I want the Triangle to work with Ginebra and hopefully win championships. And maybe, just maybe, my dislike with the Triangle will end.
To close, let me share this piece by sports editor at The Philippine STAR, Lito Tacujan, about the Cone and Ginebra mystique.

The Ginebra mystique
By LITO A. TACUJAN
They’re bringing in the winningest coach to handle the most popular team in the PBA – Tim Cone and Ginebra.
After seven seasons in the dumps, after their last title run in 2007- 08, the Kings are calling on the man with 18 championships to his name hopefully to bring back the glory years.
Cone and the Kings. The dream pair? A partnership made in heaven, a surefire formula for success, a potent mix of the best and for the believers, the greatest ? Will they reign Soon or first take a royal beating?
It’s a bold decision, coming in as the seventh coach to end a seven-year title drought.
“There will be pressure on Cone,” said a long-time league watcher.
But it’s a measure of the man’s respect and passion for the game to put everything on the line, including a year-old second grand slam, to be able to find ways for the Kings to win again and relive some of the old Ginebra mystique.
No other team in the PBA could keep generation of fans through the years and take pride for being the darling of the crowd.
Perhaps it may help Tim and his able lieutenants to go back to the team’s roots and try to fathom or unravel the character of the Kings and unlock the mysteries of the Ginebra of yore.
Go back to the Robert Jaworski era. That’s where it all started, This never-say-die spirit , when a bunch of blue-collar workers like Dante Gonzalgo, Chito Loyzaga, Dondon Ampalayo, Rey Cuenco, Leo Isaac and the rugged Rudy Distrito would wage a war and steal a win in the clutches of defeat.
They were the odd men among league superstars, the everyday heroes with unwavering work ethic coming out of their “barangay”.
Those were comebacks to die for, some etched in memory that even SMB coach Leo Austria alluded to one contest when the Kings came back from 1-3 and won over Shell in the 1991 first conference playoff.
Austria remained uncomfortable despite the talented personnel in his team led by the gentle giant Junemar Fajardo, as he recalled the decisive Ginebra surge, thinking of an Alaska fightback when the Beermen were on the threshold of a sweep in the recent Governors Cup.
That was some Ginebra team.
It brought to the hardcourt an aura of awe, respect and instilled some fear and sense of panic on the enemy.
And when they brought it on, there’s chill and thrill in the air as the drama began to unfold with the Kings methodically chipping away at the other team’s lead.
That’s when their “Sixth Man” would rise and rock and roar “G-I-N-E-B-R-A! G-I-N-E-B-R-A!”

So can we say: “G-I-N-E-B-R-A! G-I-N-E-B-R-A!” now?

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
And like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Sportsmaryosep

cone
(Photos courtesy of spin.ph)

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Enter Sandwomen

MOA by the Bay

July 20, 2015

Enter Sandwomen

This is a very short blog.

Because for the first time in more than two years I’m blogging here at Sportsmaryosep, I will only use not more than 150 words.

Actually, this is a photo blog. The difference: It’s not my photos but from Prospero Roman of the Philippine Superliga and Rafi Silerio of TV5.

And they’re about the reasons everyone of us should go rushing to the Bayside of Mall of Asia every Saturday where PSL holds its first ever beach volley event. They’re making the rainy days the hottest we’ve ever experienced. And it’s all because of these hot, climate-changing babes playing the game.

So I’ll just shut my trap and let you in to this visual pleasure.

11751159_10206162080663888_2042996280_n 11752677_10206162512594686_1125283552_o 11753379_10206162081063898_99329096_o 11756975_10206162084063973_934883298_o 11758966_10206162081103899_1456214882_n 11770253_10206162080103874_785898855_o 11777401_10206162079823867_778750528_o rafi rafi1 rafi2 rafi3 rafi4

I’m beginning to love beach volley now.

I told you this is a short blog.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

(Photos courtesy of Prospero Roman of PSL and Rafi Silerio of TV5)

Ayo-nized

The Arena, San Juan
July 16, 2015
Ayo-nized

What is a forecast?
In definition, it is a prediction or estimate of future events, especially the coming weather or a financial trend. Simply, it means to estimate, or predict future events or things that haven’t happened and could happen in the future.
Ernie Baron, bless his soul, is a popular weather forecaster while Madam Auring a known fortune teller. Us in the sportswriting business, we have those kinds too. The difference, we don’t forecast weathers nor we read your palm to tell you your fortune, we predict what will happen to a team based on what a team has on paper. I, Sportsmaryosep, consider myself as one.
But just like weather scientists and seers, we bloggers aren’t always right. That’s why its called prediction. It hasn’t happened yet but MAY happen in the future. Take note of the word, MAY. It means there’s a chance it will happen and there is an equal chance it will not. So forgive us if we end up wrong.
Why am I saying these things?
Well, it’s because of Letran coach Aldin Ayo.
You see, Ayo, who has taken over Caloy Garcia this season, has just steered the Letran Knights to a shock 93-80 destruction of the San Beda Red Lions, the reigning five-peat NCAA champions. The win sent Ayo and his shinning armor, I mean the Knights, to their third win in row and into the top alongsisde Nigerian star Bright Akhuetie and the Perpetual Help Altas. It was a sweet win for a coach and a team that were never given a chance coming into Season 91. And give credit to Ayo for architecting what media branded as “disruptive basketball” or “The House of Chaos Ayo and Letran Built.”
And then there was this question by Camille Naredo, a young writer from Abs-Cbn online or whom I suspect a Jasime Payo disciple, during the customary post-game interview at the crowded press room of The Arena in San Juan City asking Ayo his thoughts on those critics who wrote Letran down.
Didn’t catch Ayo’s exact answer but he was saying he was challenged by what Sportsmaryosep wrote just a couple of weeks before the tournament unfolded. Yes you heard it right, ladies and gentlemen, Sportsmaryosep.
Here’s the excerpt of what I’ve written in Part Two of my three-part NCAA preview:

“LETRAN
Who is Aldin Ayo? For those who don’t know him, he happens to be the new coach of the Letran Knights, replacing Caloy Garcia, who steered the Knights to a finals stint two years ago only to fail to make it to the Final the next season.
Why it would not win?
Who is Aldin Ayo? He’s practically a newbie in terms of coaching. His coaching experience goes as far as being part of KIA’s coaching staff in the PBA and the Jr. NBA, which is NBA’s program for the youth. Letran has gone from Binky Favis (titled) to Louie Alas (multi-titled) to Garcia (experienced) to Ayo (rookie) in the last few decades. Maybe the Knights are trying to rebuild and literally start from scratch. So let’s give Ayo a chance and the benefit of the doubt.
Why it would win?
Who is Aldin Ayo? As an added info, Ayo is a former teammate of Kerby Raymundo and Chris Calaguio when Letran lorded it over the field in the late 90s. If there’s anything going right for the Knights in tapping Ayo, at least they will not be pressured to win with a brand new coach. So don’t blame Ayo if they lose. Because Letran isn’t going to be a pushover come Season 91. If you’re not scared of the backcourt of Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac, I don’t know what will. Also, Rey Publico and Kier Quinto are both seasoned by last year’s experience. McJour Luib is also back to give the backcourt an added punch defensively. Racal should be back healthy after a season-ending injury a year ago. If you’re scared of Racal, I would also be thinking of Cruz and Nambatac too. Men, I’m excited already.
Madam Auring: Who’s Aldin Ayo again?”

Well, I must admit I belittled Ayo. But how can you blame me? Ayo, afterall, is a rookie coach and hasn’t proven anything but made KIA’s coaching staff in the PBA and the Jr. NBA and WNBA and a coaching stint in, guess where? Sorsogon. That is aside from the fact that I’ve covered Ayo in the late 90s when I was still a cub reporter from the Manila Times and eventually The Philippine STAR. Boy, Ayo was a menace especially on the defensive end just like his Knights today. And besides, Letran is almost the same team as last year minus some of its big men. So who would have thought the Knights would surprise us like what they’ve been doing?

lc1
But I understand Ayo. I hurt his feelings. So he has the right to voice out his pent up emotions. It’s also understandable that he stopped reading my Sportsmaryosep blog because of the thrash I’ve written about him. So he might have missed the other blog I’ve penned last July 4 titled “Welcome to the Brightside.” And here’s an excerpt of it that mentioned Ayo and the Knights:

“6. Aldin Ayo and the Knights are no pushovers. After they slew the Jose Rizal Bombers, one of the teams to beat this year, Letran deserves the apologies of many who wrote the team down in the pre-season, including yours truly. You can’t have a better introduction than this for Aldin Ayo. So we’re sorry from the bottom of our collective hearts.”

And these also:

“8. Speaking of Letran, the trio of Kevin Racal, Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac has got to be the best backcourt rotation in the country today. Watching them is like watching Smaug, only, its’ a three-headed dragon. If I were a player not wearing the blue and red, I will be scared and eviscerating on my pants right now.”

So again, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. You want me to kneel?

lc2

Happy now, coach?

I hope you are.
Because when the element of Letran’s surprise starts dissipating and teams come out with ways to counter you’re way of basketball and you begin to lose and the doubts start to creep in, that’s when reality comes in. And then you will realize that YOU ARE JUST THREE WINS INTO THE SEASON.
And then when losing start to count and shadows of your carcasses pile up, Sportsmaryosep will come knocking at your door loud. And I will be your Sandman coach, haunting you. Collecting your souls. Like an angel of basketball death. So again, prove me wrong. I welcome it. I will embrace it.
And the best way to do it is with winning.
So shove it to me straight and win that championship.
Because if you do, you will never see the likes me write something asking “Who is Aldin Ayo?”
But rather with these four little words: “Aldin, A-yo The Man!”

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

lc

(Photos courtesy of Richard Esquerra of sports.abs-cbn.com)

Love Birds

La Salle Taft
July 5, 2015
Love Birds

This is not a sports blog.
So if you’re expecting a trade to be reported, or a basketball or volleyball game to be chronicled, this is not it. This, however, is connected with both basketball and volleyball. With a sprinkle of heartache and a touch of love. So I’m warning you, if you can’t tolerate corniness, run as fast as you can and go read something else. Otherwise, sit, relax and enjoy.
Kiefer Ravena and Mika Reyes already broke up.
Kiefer confirmed this in a story that came out in the entertainment section, not sports, of inquirer.net. He said there was no third party involved. He also denied he is going out with Jasmin Curtis Smith. Mika, for her part, remained silent. For whatever reason that caused the split, only Kiefer and Mika know. Maybe someday we’ll know.
It is sad.
One of the most endearing love stories on this side of sports gone to waste. As we all know, Kiefer is from Ateneo while Mika from archrival La Salle. Romeo and Juliet, right? Right. But they say good things must come to an end. So it has.
Now comes another chapter.
Which I hope to encapsulate in one question. Are Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez a couple?
A source told me Kiefer and Alyssa are just friends. And a very close one. The two happen to endorse almost the same products and play for the same school. So there is no excuse for them not to be friends. They’re both Eagles. Same feather, flock together? Indeed.
But our mind wonder sometimes. We’re humans after all. So we will throw the gauntlet and ask: What if they’re a couple? Why not? Both are trancedental players, the best in what they do. Kiefer is the unquestioned best college basketball player today while Alyssa is undoubtedly the best volleyball player in the land. Both are not only good-looking but also humble, charismatic and down to earth. And they will do humanity and the country good if they end up together in the future, marry and make children. Imagine two super athletes passing super athletes genes to their potential children? It’s like producing prototypes of a Kiafer Ravena and an Alyssa Valdez.
But hey, let’s leave them be. If they decide to stay friends, fine. If they push the envelope further and allow their feelings to flourish into what we call love, fine too. For the meantime, let’s just sit and relax and enjoy their moments.

So I’m closing this story with this nice little quote.

love2
I told you this is not a sports blog.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

kiefalyssa

(Photo courtesy of Rocky Samson Canlas)

Welcome to the Brightside

Lipa City, Batangas
July 4, 2015
Welcome to the Brightside

As I was enjoying my favorite the day of the week, which is Saturday because I get to spend it with family, when someone rang me up telling me that Season 91 of the NCAA is already abuzz with so many news even though we’re just more than a week into the tournament.
I was also told this NCAA has got to be one of the best, if not the best, seasons he’s seeing.
I have to agree.

ncaa
You see, after nine seniors games in four different play dates, we were already treated with so many plots and subplots as well as angles and rivalries that us sportswriters and bloggers could use as story lines as the season progresses.

And these first 10 thoughts came to mind:
1. San Beda is no longer the defense-first, grit-and-grind team that we got used to the past decade when it captured eight of the last nine championships including a rare five-peat feat. Since Jamike Jarin took over, he had molded the Lions the way he liked it: a well-oiled, high-scoring team reminiscent of the Phoenix Suns, Steve Nash era.

art
2. Perpetual Help’s Bright Akhuetie has got to be the best foreign import on this side of the Earth after entertaining us with a 44-point, 19-rebound performance in the Altas’ impressive win over the St. Benilde Blazers recently. His 44-point output is the highest among all the non-Filipino player who walked our soil, including the UAAP. The last highest offensive output by any NCAA player was a 48-point barrage by Jose Rizal’s John Wilson six years ago. And he is just 18 years old.

bright
3. Mapua’s Allwell Oraeme has got to be ranked up there just a little below Mr. Brightside (Akhuetie) after an 18-point, 22-rebound effort in the Cardinals’ triumph over the San Sebastian Stags. And he is just 19 years old.

oraeme
4. San Beda’s Ola Adeogun will need some waking so we will be reminded that was the alpha dog before Akhuetie and Oraeme landed from the heavens. In fairness, Ola has some hamstring issues that cost him to miss a game so we’ll give the guy a little leeway for him to prove that he is still the king of the hill. Not just the Lion King.

ola
5. The best Filipino player distinction is a toss up between Perpetual Help’s Earl Scottie Thompson, who had posted his first triple-double (14 pts, 12 rebs, 10 assts) this season and fourth overall in the NCAA and Arellano U’s Jio Jalalon, who dished out a season-high 14 assists. San Beda’s Arthur dela Cruz has been filling up the stat sheets and should be somewhere at No. 3. San Sebastian’s Jamil Ortuoste, Mapua’s Josan Nimes and St. Benilde’s Jonathan Grey are somewhere behind. And I’m waiting for San Beda’s Baser Amer to make a run at this as soon as his shoulder heals complete.

earl

jio
6. Aldin Ayo and the Knights are no pushovers. After they slew the Jose Rizal Bombers, one of the teams to beat this year, Letran deserves the apologies of many who wrote the team down in the pre-season, including yours truly. You can’t have a better introduction than this for Aldin Ayo. So we’re sorry from the bottom of our collective hearts.
7. Manny Pacquiao is now part of the NCAA family thanks to his involvement to the Letran team where he is reportedly the team manager. So can we can call the Knights the People’s team since they are managed by the People’s champion?

letran
8. Speaking of Letran, the trio of Kevin Racal, Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac has got to be the best backcourt rotation in the country. Watching them is like watching Smaug, only, its’ a three-headed dragon. If I were a player not wearing the blue and red, I will be scared and eviscerating on my pants right now.
9. ABS-CBN did an excellent job of bringing the show to everyone at it’s Sports and Action channel with replays on Balls. So congratulations.
10. We sportswriters are benefitting from this fantasy-friendly season since 13 of us brave souls put up the very first NCAA fantasy league. Reuben Terrado of spin.ph and Mark Escarlote of ABS CBN online are leading the way while, ahem, yours truly, is running third, thanks to Bright.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar.

allwell

(Photos courtesy of Tiebreaker Times, Rey Nambatac and Philippine STAR)