Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Choosing a center for Barangay Ginebra

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Choosing a center for Barangay Ginebra
by rick olivares

For the first time in 17 years, Ginebra will have the overall number pick. The last time they won the draft lottery was 1996 when they tabbed Marlou Aquino.

This year they’ll have the luxury to choose among Raymond Almazan, Ian Sangalang, and Greg Slaughter. Both Almazan and Sangalang stand 6’7” while Slaughter peaks at 7’0”.

Who should they get?

First of all, let’s look at the rotation of Ginebra:

PG – LA Tenorio, Josh Urbiztondo, and Rob Labagala
SG – Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand,
SF - Chris Ellis, Mac Baracael, and Dylan Ababou
PF – Japeth Aguilar, Willy Wilson, and Rico Maierhofer
C – Billy Mamaril and Kerby Raymundo

They are set at the guard and small forward positions. It’s in the four-spot and five-spot where Ginebra needs help.

Ginebra rebounds with all hands on deck. They were fourth in that category last conference but it’s hard to look at that as a key stat when imports are a factor. Having said that, it should be noted that in the top 10 rebounders of the last conference, there were only two locals (Asi Taulava and Jay Washington).

But if you know your Ginebra history, this is a team that always had its guards and forwards (not to mention its high flying and larger than life imports) as the main stars – there’s the Big J, Francis Arnaiz, Dondon Ampalayo, Chito and Joey Loyzaga, Rudy Distrito, Bal David, Vince Hizon, Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand.

Outside its imports, it’s never had a super center since Aquino brought his gangly frame and goggles to the pros. Sure there was Rommel Adducul but he didn’t have the desired effect on the five spot. Eric Menk, a traditional power forward had to play the middle at times since there was a lack of a quality big man.

They’ve mostly had those wiry and gangly centers like Ed Ducut, Romulo Mamaril, Rey Cuenco, Sonny Cabatu (who isn’t wiry and gangly but awkward although effective too) come in and his arrival immediately helped Ginebra.

In today’s PBA game, you want a center who will do battle with the tall guys and the imports. So let’s see how the three fare on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest.

Based on my watching these guys play in their respective college leagues and the D-League, that’s how I rate them. It’s close but Greg scores better. And in my opinion, I feel that the Big Fella should go to Barangay Ginebra.

From what I read, the Big Fella also has the nod of  Ginebra icon Mark Caguioa. It’s not every day you land a big guy like that with the potential to be a game changer.

Here’s a short interview with Greg Slaughter.

Rick: Your thoughts on possibility for playing for Ginebra?

Greg: I would love nothing more than to play for the most fan supported and historical team in the PBA. I've seen Ginebra games and know they have the people behind them and I think that's why Ginebra has a never say die attitude.

Rick: May I ask for your reaction to the fact that no #1 pick from Ateneo has done well in the pros. Alex Araneta retired early while Rich Alvarez, Japeth Aguilar and Noy Baclao have been journeymen.

Greg: Rich has been playing for I think nine years now so for me that's quite an accomplishment of being able to stay in the league for that long. Japeth and Noy are still young and have plenty of time. I don't think being a journeyman is bad as long as you keep getting better. Look at Robert Horry.

Rick: In the PBA the players are taller and heftier, do you relish the challenge of going against these them?

Greg: Absolutely. I'm excited to play against the best competition in the country. There's nothing more fun and satisfying than to be able to use your abilities at 110 percent as if you're fighting for your life.

Rick: It’s been a while since you played competitively. What have you been working on?

Greg: My shooting, touch around the hoop, dribbling, and strength mostly. When I get back to Manila I can work on my cardio better.

So get ready for the Big Fella to make a splash in the big leagues.

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