July 24, 2015
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?
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