April 28, 2017
LUCENA – Rain or Shine guard Maverick Ahanmisi shone with a flawless showing and became the fourth player to retain a crown in the Obstacle Challenge contest in the PBA All-Star Spectacle at the Quezon Convention Center here Friday. Ahanmisi first hurdled Kris Rosales in the matchup phase of the Cloudfone-sponsored event before pulling through in the race-against-the-clock finale versus Alex Cabagnot, Eman Monfort, RJ Jazul, Sol Mercado and Simon Enciso. “I know I’m the first to go and the other guys are gonna chase me. I just go hard and try not to make a mistake,” said Ahanmisi in winning the contest also participated in by Stanley Pringle, LA Revilla, Roi Sumang, Alvin Abundo. “There were a lot of good competitors. I just really tried not to make a mistake. One mistake and it would be hard to win,” added Ahanmisi who posted a winning time of 25.8 in the finale. Cabagnot came in second at 26.7, followed by Monfort at 27.1, Jazul at 29.4, Mercado at 28.1 and Enciso at 37.8. Ahanmisi went flawless in the tests of dribbling, passing and shooting and became the fourth player to collect two straight Obstacle Challenge crowns after Rob Johnson, Willie Miller and Jonas Villanueva. Miller won it three in a row from 2006 to 2008 while Villanueva reigned for four straight years from 2010. Cabagnot also had a flawless performance but negotiated the course a second slower than Ahanmisi.
April 28, 2017
The first PBA All-Star Game this season finished a couple of nights ago in Cagayan De Oro, and the second one is set today in Lucena City. Coach Chot Reyes is expected to make his much awaited announcement about the final composition of Gilas Pilipinas for the SEABA Championship after today\'s All-Star match, and all eyes and ears are surely set for that one. Let us, however, revisit how the teams have been doing this conference. San Miguel Beer is on a tear, of course, sitting pretty on top with a 5-0 slate, while Meralco has remained strong at 6-1. Ginebra has zoomed to the top three as well, sporting a 4-1 slate, while early leaders like Alaska, Star, and TNT have absorbed some defeats that have pushed them down to the middle of the pack. Let\'s look at our second set of power rankings for this conference. 1 - San Miguel Beermen (5-0) -same- - The Beermen have won three in a row since our last power rankings, beating Star, Mahindra, and ROS successively by an average of 16 points. To say they have been dominant is an understatement, and it is reasonable to expect them to contine their winning ways moving forward. They will be tested in their next four matches though, which feature TNT, Ginebra, and Alaska while winless NLEX should be an almost certain notch on the win column again. 2 - Barangay Ginebra (4-1) -up 4 spots- - The Gin Kings have rattled off four victories in a row after dropping their initial assignment against Phoenix. Justin Brownlee has remained solid with a double-double average of nearly 25 points and 11 rebounds per game, while the frontline tandem of Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance has withstood the bigger imports of other teams. Coach Tim has his unit humming, and they will need all the momentum they can gather as they prep for San Miguel Beer on May 21. Before then, they should be favored against the Aces and Painters. 3 - Meralco Bolts (6-1) -same- - A token loss to SMB didn\'t dampen the Bolts\' spirits. They bounced back with two straight triumphs over Alaska and Blackwater, further securing their hold at second place in the league table. The rise of Baser Amer has maybe been the biggest factor affecting Meralco\'s improved performance this conference, though one cannot look past the resurgence of Jared Dillinger and the steady production of of Alex Stepheson. They will have a bit of a tough sked, though, with the Fuel Masters next week to be followed by Star and GlobalPort. 4 - TNT KaTropa (5-2) -down 2 spots- - TNT is still in great shape this conference, though that loss to Ginebra surely stung and will seriously jeopardize their chances of finishing among the top two seeds. They also need to get ready fast as they will have a titanic tussle with San Miguel on May 5. As deep as TNT has been, they have never really been able to consistently solve the SMB puzzle yet this season (they are 3-5 against the Beermen), so a win will do wonders for their confidence. Also, they just traded Matt Rosser in exchange for RR Garcia, so that should make things extra interesting. 5 - Star Hotshots (5-2) -up 1 spot- - Losing back to back to Ginebra and San Miguel Beer was kind of expected, but they recovered nicely with a W over the Elite. That means Star is still within striking distance of a top two spot, though the odds aren\'t in their favor by any stretch. There\'s still a cloud hanging over Tony Mitchell, but at least the locals have been producing. Allein Maliksi has been nothing if not efficient, while Jio Jalalon has made Mark Barroca and Paul Lee quake in their boots for losing playing time. Don\'t sleep on how far the Hotshots can go this conference. 6 - Alaska Aces (4-2) -up 1 spot- - Sure, Alaska has lost two in a row, and their next two games are punishing (Ginebra and then TNT), but the Aces have long been considered one of the league\'s best \"against all odds\" clubs, and I am sure coach Alex Compton will find a way to squeeze as much as he can from his Aces. Alaska could end up as high as a top three team or as low as among the bottom four, but it\'s never smart to bet against these guys. 7 - Phoenix Fuel Masters (3-4) -up 3 spots- - Recent losses to SMB and ROS hurt, but wins against powerhouse Ginebra and top tier club Alaska have boosted Phoenix\'s chances of making a run at the quarterfinals. It will be very interesting to see if Matthew Wright can keep shooting well, while it\'s also going to be exciting to see if JC Intal can continue to put up big numbers. Of course, much of their fate is carried by import Jameel McKay, who has been a beast in every sense of the word. 8 - GlobalPort Batang Pier (2-5) -up 1 spot- - Starting the conference 0-4 was sour, but the Batang Pier have rebounded well, winning two of their last three. And, sure, they won over the bottom two teams in the standings, but that should give them enough of a push to be threats in their next few encounters, which are against Phoenix, Meralco, and Rain or Shine — all of whom are beatable as long as Von Pessumal stays hot, Stanley Pringle continues his heavy production, and Terrence Romeo fully recovers his health. 9 - Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters (4-3) -down 2 spots- - A red-hot 3-0 start to the conference has all but been forgotten after the Painters lost three of their last four. A win against Phoenix gave ROS a good respite, but this team really needs to get its act together to secure a quarterfinal berth. That means consistency from guys like Shawn Taggart, Jeff Chan, and James Yap, while some other guys like Jay Washington, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, and Maverick Ahanmisi need to step up. 10 - Blackwater Elite (1-6) -down 2 spots- - The Elite haven\'t been playing well, which is understandable considering they aren\'t enjoying the services of their top two forwards, but there is something to say about guys like Roi Sumang, Kyle Pascual, Ronjay Buenafe, and Reil Cervantes trying to carry the cudgels. Only herculean efforts from import Greg Smith, however, will really be able to propel Blackwater to a quarterfinal spot, and, realistically speaking, it\'s unlikely they will win majority of their last four elims assignments (NLEX, Mahindra, Ginebra, and SMB). 11 - Mahindra Floodbuster (1-7) -same- - Mahindra is one of the coldest teams around, losing their last five outings. They remain mired with NLEX at the bottom of the pile, and even if they win all their remaining games (Blackwater, Phoenix, and Ginebra), they wouldn\'t be assured of a top eight slot. That\'s a shame, of course, considering how well guys like Alex Mallari and Reden Celda have played. 12 - NLEX Road Warriors (0-7) -same- - It\'s understandable how coach Yeng Guiao is frustrated. His is not the shallowest roster in the league. I mean, he has promising players like Kevin Alas, Brad Guinto, Garvo Lanete, and Carlo Lastimosa. He has great veterans in Sean Anthony, Asi Taulava, and Jonas Villanueva. His import, Wayne Chism, has been rock-solid. So what gives? NLEX just hasn\'t found its identity yet, and until they do, the whoel will always be less than the sum of all its talented moving parts.
April 28, 2017
After tonight\'s 2017 PBA All-Star Game in Lucena City, national team head coach Chot Reyes is set to name the final roster for the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will compete at the SEABA Championship 2017 this coming May. Many have speculated about who have good chances of making it to the squad, and, not surprisingly, one man\'s final twelve is quite different from another\'s. It\'s a testament to the depth of the current Gilas pool and the amount of sheer talent we have in the PBA. In this post, I will name five players whom I believe are shoo-ins to make it to the final SEABA line-up. This is not based on any conversations or exchanges I have had with members of the Gilas braintrust. Instead, these are all my personal picks based on my extensive coverage of the national team and Asian competitions these past handful of years. Let\'s get down to it. Andray Blatche (Xinjiang Flying Tigers - CBA) - Per Games: 22.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 blocks, 2.3 steals, 1.5 triples. - Those are amazing numbers, eh? To be honest, Blatche has the stuff to still play in the NBA, but he will never really get as much attention, production, and playing time there compared to what he\'s getting in China, where he is fresh from winning Xinjiang\'s first CBA title. At 6\'11 and given his rare skill-set, Blatche has no peer in the ASEAN region, and as long as he is fully healthy and motivated, he should be an unstoppable force of nature at the SEABA tournament. June Mar Fajardo (Sam Miguel Beermen) - Per Games: 18.0 points, 13.1 rebounds, 17 assists, 2.0 blocks, 62.4 FG%. - Fajardo has long been the PBA\'s most dominant local player, earning three straight season MVPs, but he has barely made a ripple in the international game despite consistently being on the roster since 2013. Given the level and size of his competition at SEABA, the Kraken should post significantly better numbers, and this should be great momentum for him as he is also a sure bet to be with Gilas in the FIBA Asia Cup and Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Don\'t be shocked if June Mar goes on a tear in the coming SEABA joust. Calvin Abueva (Alaska Aces) - Per Games: 15.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.1 blocks. - Abueva was hurt when he was cut from the 2016 Gilas squad that competed int he FIBA OQT, but he should be among the cornerstones of the national team this year. He is a little undersized at the 3 spot, but that shouldn\'t be much of a factor at the SEABA level. What he lacks in consistent perimeter shooting, he makes up for in motor and hustle. He will also probably be Gilas\'s top perimeter defender when it comes to containing other teams\' best wingmen like Chitchai Ananti (THA), Arki Wisnu (INA), Leon Kwek (SIN), and Moses Morgan (THA). Terrence Romeo (GlobalPort Batang Pier) - Per Games: 25.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 3.8 triples. - Romeo has steadily improved his production as each PBA season has passed, and many are already convinced he will inherit the mantle of being the country\'s (if not the continent\'s) best point guard from Jayson Castro anytime soon. Romeo is arguably the best one-on-one payer in the country, and it will be a delight to see him put his ASEAN defenders on skates in a couple of weeks. Hit outside shooting and ability to break defenses down will be key for a team whose offense is predicated on dribble penetration and hitting the three. Jayson Castro (TNT KaTropa) - Per Games: 16.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.3 triples. - Castro will turn 31 in June, and though he\'s not exactly a fossil yet, the toll of being TNT\'s #1 player and Gilas\'s #1 backcourt weapon has been showing. His efficiency this year in the PBA is at its lowest compared to the past two seasons, and it\'s clear he has been consciously deferring a lot more to his teammates. The impending acquisition of spitfire guard RR Garcia is also a sign that Castro is on the downturn of his productive career, but, heck, this should not prevent The Blur from having a go at it in SEABA. There may be a few ASEAN guards out there who can claim to be as quick as Castro, but none of them have his craftiness, experience, and ability to finish strong around the basket. Here are a few other names that, in my opinion and barring injury, are 99.9% certain to make it to the Gilas roster based on their experience and production this season: Japeth Aguilar (Ginebra), Troy Rosario (TNT), Matthew Wright (Phoenix). Who else do you think should be on Gilas for SEABA 2017?
Apr 27, 2017
CAGAYAN DE ORO – Hindi na aabot si Andray Blatche para masamahan ang Gilas Pilipinas sa darating na PBA All-Star Games kontra selection ng Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The NBA veteran will arrive May 2, but that’s not going to be a problem, according to Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio. “Sakto lang,” Antonio told pba.ph. “We’re looking at maybe May 1 or 2,” Antonio said. “It’s in time for the SEABA. By that time, we’re heading back to Manila after finishing the PBA All-Stars by May 1. Knowing Chot (Reyes) he might give that day to the players, so we go back to work full time sa May 2. That’s the target. But everything is OK as far as his commitment to play for SEABA.” Katatapos lamang rendahan ni Blatche ang kanyang koponan sa Chinese Basketball Association, ang Xinjiang Flying Tigers, na nagkampeon sa nakaraang torneo. Nangangahulugan lamang na magiging maganda ang kundisyon ng dating manlalaro ng Brooklyn Nets kung sasabak siyang muli sa paglalaro sa Gilas Pilipinas sa darating na SEABA Championship sa SMART-Araneta Coliseum mula Mayo 12 hanggang 18. Blatche has decided to go back to the United States for a short vacation after a long season playing in China, but he remains committed to play for the Philippine national team despite plans made by the squad to get naturalized back up players each time the 6-foot-11 center/forward isn’t available to play for Gilas in major international events. Although Blatche will miss the PBA All-Stars, Antonio believes they could bring up to speed the naturalized player’s adjustment to the system being ran by comebacking coach Chot Reyes. “I was on the line with his handlers Tuesday afternoon. We’re just waiting for the exact date of his arrival,” added Antonio. “I just told them if we can have him earlier, the better. I think we can bring him up to speed, his adjustment on how Coach Chot is running his system. Sanay na rin tayo sa ganyan.” Si Blatche lamang ang hindi makakalaso sa final 12 line up na bubuuin ni Reyes na maglalaro sa huling araw ng All-Star Week sa Cebu kung saan haharapin ng Gilas ang Visayas All-Stars na gagabayan ni Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone. Gilas Pilipinas started the first of the three matches scheduled against the PBA Stars in Cagayan de Oro Wednesday, after which, the national pool members will be playing in Lucena against the Luzon All-Stars then wrap up their campaign against the Visayas All-Stars in Cebu.
April 26, 2017
Right after the Cagayan de Oro festivities, the PBA/Gilas Pilipinas delegation swings over to Lucena in Quezon for an All-Star extravaganza that will include the keenly awaited skills competitions. The PBA Luzon selection takes its turn to challenge Gilas Pilipinas in the All-Star Friday spectacle -- sponsored by HMR Trading, Mueller, Peak, Crystal Clear, Anako, Davco, Smart, Cloudfone and Petron -- also featuring the title defenses of Rey Guevarra, Terrence Romeo and Maverick Ahanmisi in the All-Star side events. Another highlight of the Lucena event at the Quezon Convention Center is the announcement by Gilas coach Chot Reyes of his Final 12 for the SEABA Championship slated May 12-18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Reyes will be with PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa and Quezon Gov. David Suarez as he names the 12 players shortly after the Gilas-PBA Luzon showdown. Matthew Wright, Bradwyn Guinto, Carl Bryan Cruz, Kevin Ferrer, Mike Tolomia, Arnold Van Opstal, Ed Daquiaog, Almond Vosotros, Jonathan Grey, Raymond Almazan, Norbert Torres and Allein Maliksi make up the Gilas roster versus the PBA Luzon selection bannered by Gilas veterans Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva and Jayson Castro. Alex Cabagnot, LA Tenorio, Marcio Lassiter, Stanley Pringle, Jay Washington, Paul Lee, Mark Caguioa, Arwind Santos and Ranidel de Ocampo complete the PBA cast to be handled by coach Leo Austria. Several other PBA stars are appearing in Lucena to slug it out in the slam dunk competition, three-point shootout and the Obstacle Challenge presented by Cloudfone. Ahanmisi defends his Obstacle Challenge crown against Alaska’s Simon Enciso, Blackwater’s Roi Sumang, GInebra’s Sol Mercado, GlobalPort’s Stanley Pringle, Mahindra’s Revilla, NLEX’s Eman Monfort, Meralco’s Daquiaog, Phoenix’s RJ Jazul, Star’s Justin Melton and San Miguel’s Alex Cabagnot. Romeo, the three-point winner in Palawan in 2015 and at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last year, tries to match Mark Macapagal’s three-peat from 2010-12 as he defends his crown against a roster of challengers led by 2013 winner Chris Tiu. Also on the list are Alaska’s Simon Enciso, Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, Mahindra’s Gary David, NLEX’s Juami Tiongson, Meralco’s Jared Dillinger, Star’s Allein Maliksi, TNT’s Larry Fonacier, Blackwater’s Ronjay Buenafe or Michael DiGregorio and SMB’s Marcio Lassiter. Macapagal is the record-holder with four titles. Romeo, meanwhile, is a two-time winner like Ricric Marata, Jasper Ocampo, Boyet Fernandez and Jimmy Alapag. Guevarra goes for a four-peat in the slam-dunk contest but he’s likely to face stiff competition against a field led by former winners Ju