Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Philippine Cup campaign has once more come to a sickening halt. Eliminated at the hands of a resurgent Talk ‘N Text team, 87-69, in the quarterfinals, this title-starved ballclub has to ask, “What now? What next?”
Ginebra started out the season well racking up win after win before shedding the mantle of early season invincibility.
As for Talk ‘N Text, they didn’t look too impressive at the start of the Philippine Cup but they have steadily found their groove. Talk ‘N Text, after looking like their dynasty was over last season, look to be back. Ranidel De Ocampo is moving well. Jason Castro is getting to the hole with impunity. Matt Rosser is proving to be a huge pick up for this squad.
As for Ginebra, just when people thought they had put it all together with their addition of Joseph Yeo, they have once more fallen by the wayside.
During the 2014 Philippine Cup, Ginebra also burst out of the gates and topped the elimination round, 11-3. They got rid of Alaska in the Quarterfinals only to lose in seven games against San Mig Coffee.
In the middle Commissioner’s Cup conference, they dropped to the lower tier, finishing eighth with a 3-6 record. Despite their less than stellar record, they made the quarterfinals where Talk ‘N Text bounced them in one match.
In the season ending Governors’ Cup, they fought back to a 5-4 elimination round record; good for sixth. Alaska sent them packing in the quarterfinals.
And in an ironic twist of fate, the man who guided them to their last title – in the 2007-08 Fiesta Conference – is Jong Uichico who was on the bench of the Tropang Texters that ousted them last Tuesday night. It has been six years – an eternity it seems – since this squad tasted championship bubbly.
It has been that long. And speaking of “long” this team needs some longevity and continuity in some places. Particularly speaking, the coaching position.
Since Al Chua vacated his seat in July of 2013 after six months on board, Ginebra has needed some coaching stability. Ato Agustin, who replaced Chua, didn’t last long either as he stayed on the job for nine months. Now, Jeff Cariaso, eight months on the job, has the perennial crowd favorites playing well. They just need some consistency.
Only Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar average in double figures with the former only receiving the third most minutes. There are four players averaging at least nine points per game. That’s still good support but you’d like them to do better.
Consistency day-in and day-out production. And that goes as well in coaching. They have a good young coach in Cariaso and they should give him time to get the team used to the system. Watching them this conference, I see them running the Triangle Offense at times and junking it on others. Of course, not one team in the world runs it full time. Circumstances dictate that.
Speaking of longevity in player terms, most of the players, save for Yeo and rookie Rodney Brondial, have been together some time. They have the parts and the talent to win. They just need to bring it every single day. The lack of consistency forces the coaching staff to constantly change and tinker with its lineup.
Looking at their season stats, Ginebra can score. At least we know they can. Their Triangle Offense, or their version of it, seems to get more press. But maybe the team would like to – if I may be so bold – to re-dedicate themselves on defense first (they are a middle of the pack team in terms of team defense).
It should be noted that three of the four top-ranked defense teams are in the semifinals. Talk ‘N Text, as I said earlier, are finally putting it together.
Ginebra should pay attention. After all, they have the giants and the athletes to throttle opponents. Now we’ll see if they get to do that on the court sooner than later before management decides to throttle their underachieving club undermining the good pieces and vibes they have picked up in the past two years.