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Ginebra gives a glimpse of what is to come
Ginebra gives a glimpse of what is to come
thoughts by rick olivares pic by nuki sabio
Sometimes we’d like to think that it’s all about how soon a team can jell together. The knock on Barangay Ginebra for much of the post-Robert Jaworksi era is rather than have a team of a few stars and a crew of role players, they have mostly fielded a team of stars where minutes are an issue. You take that theory and a bunch of new players (Greg Slaughter, James Forrester, Emman Monfort, Jay-R Reyes, and Bryan Faundo that’s about a little over 1/3 of the team roster) to go with a few late acquisitions from last season (Japeth Aguilar and Josh Urbiztondo) and one who is coming off an injury (Dylan Ababou) and you will understand that why there is concern about chemistry.
Well, it was a concern after the first 24 minutes of play as San Mig looked like they picked up from where they left of. Marc Pingris was aggressive. Mark Barroca was scoring easy layups off Ginebra turnovers. Yancy De Ocampo gave Greg Slaughter a difficult time. Val Acuña was sizzling from the outside. And Ian Sangalang was making Tim Cone look good in his pre-draft assessment that the former San Sebastian Stag was the most PBA ready of all the rookies.
But that is why the game is played for four quarters. Here’s how Ginebra overhauled their deficit and took over the game.
They found the right combination
In the first half, with Ginebra struggling, head coach Ato Agustin shuffled his lineup looking for a combination that would work. The first few offensives following the halftime break offered no solutions as his starters continued to flounder.
After Mark Barroca scored on an easy two, to make it 44-36, Agustin put in Emman Monfort to run the offense while LA Tenorio slid to the off guard spot. About two minutes later, Dylan Ababou came in for Chris Ellis and a minute after, it was Jay-R Reyes for Greg Slaughter. Only starter Japeth Aguilar was on the floor at that time. Then they made their run.
It was an unusual combo in the backcourt more for their size than anything. Monfort on the outside allowed Tenorio to score on two drives while Ababou added five points.
By third quarter’s end, Ginebra was up 58-55. Although San Mig’s Val Acuña equalized with a triple form the left corner pocket that was the closest they would get the rest of the way.
He found it in the second half with an unlikely combination albeit from the bench and some small ball. Monfort, who got a terrific response from the Ginebra crowd didn’t do much but he fired up his squad. He missed some shots that he would normally make but that was because his arms felt heavy from one of the weight lifting drills he does for Ginebra that he admits is the first time he has done all his life. But that was okay because Tenorio, Ababou, and Jayjay Helterbrand provided the outside artillery as the three combined for five triples.
Those three-point bombs, when hit at the right moment can really be a game changer.
And with Mark Caguioa not playing well, Ababou’s 16 points in the second half were huge.
The frontline dominated the game.
Japeth Aguilar’s line read: 18 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks.
Greg Slaughter tallied 10 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks (and one assist).
Jay-R Reyes added 10 points as well.
With 55 seconds left in the third period, San Mig’s Rafi Reavis drove to the basket where Reyes met him. Instead of blocking the ball he whacked the former’s face earning his ire. From my vantage point, it was an inadvertent play but it stung nonetheless as Reavis got into the face of Reyes. A technical foul was slapped on the two. Reavis hit only one of two free throws to make it 55-54 for his team but on the opposite end, Reyes grabbed an offensive rebound and fired a hook to give Ginebra back the lead.
After a botched San Mig offensive, Reyes was fouled by Reavis and the Ginebra center hit his two free throws.
Talk about a response.
In all my years of watching Ian Sangalang, I don’t recall him on the receiving end of all these blocks from Aguilar, Slaughter, and even Bryan Faundo.
Ginebra’s frontline shut down that lane. Without the injured Joe Devance, there wasn’t much Yancy De Ocampo, Marc Pingris and Sangalang could do after that.
The second half subs made Agustin look good
I thought the entry of the Monfort and Ababou along with Tenorio coming alive turned things around for their team. But Reyes standing tall in the slot, responding to the confrontation with Reavis further stabilized the team.
In local parlance, this is what you refer to as, ‘maganda yung bunot.’ With things not going right for Ginebra, it forced Ato Agustin to dig deep into his bench. It started with Monfort, followed by Ababou then almost everyone who came in after that contributed: Reyes then Helterbrand then Slaughter then Aguilar and even Bryan Faundo.
San Mig’s starters got them going early in the game but it was Ginebra’s bench that righted their own ship for which the Super Coffee Mixers did not have any response.