Nov. 13, 2016
And the next PBA superstar from UST is... is... IS...
My UST Growling Tigers finished the 2016 UAAP season with a bad 3-11 win-loss record. The last time UST was in this situation, Nel Parado was still their coach. That team had Danny Pribdhas, Jemal Vizcarra, and Christian Luanzon and it was considered as the low point in UST’s last decades up until now. Sure, I hate it when the Tigers choke in the finals. Hell, I cringe every time I close my eyes and remember that time when that no-good Dino Aldaguer unearthed that clutch shot to make my jaw drop and my eyes water... much less with the turnovers that stained Aljon Mariano’s final year. But I guess I would rather have my Tigers lose to the best team than plummet to gutter hell.
Jamil Sheriff and Louie Vigil returned to play their final year but it was difficult for them to fill the void left by Karim Abdul, Ed Daquioag, and Kevin Ferrer. The only saving grace for the Tigers is that three of their alums won PBA titles last season. Jeric Teng finally broke his title dry spell when the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters won the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup while Jervy Cruz and Aljon Mariano got their ring when the Barangay Ginebra Kings ruled the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup.
But team glory is different from individual glory. After Cyrus Baguio, who is the last UST Growling Tiger to make it big in the PBA? Teng won the prize while playing for Mighty Sports. Cruz had his flashes of brilliance but he’s more of an undersized backup big man for the Kings. And while Mariano impressed when the Kings took on the San Miguel Beermen in the semis, he barely played in the Finals. It’s almost four decades ago since Bogs Adornado won the league’s MVP prize thrice. During the nineties, we had Dennis Espino and Bal David. The decade after, we saw the rise of Cyrus Baguio.
Again I pose this question – when was the last time a Tiger made it big in the PBA?
This season, UST had two entries in the 2016 PBA Draft. Kevin Ferrer signed with Ginebra while Ed Daquiaog is now with the Meralco Bolts. I want to be optimistic. I really do. Ginebra will use Ferrer to fill their small forward void while the re-retirement of Jimmy Alapag will be the perfect entry point for Daquioag’s rise. But both players are also assigned to play for Gilas Pilipinas. Chot Reyes will run these guys to the ground and their teams could use them sporadically because even with their skills, the Kings and the Bolts are still loaded in talent. Tim Cone will still have his shooters and slashers while Norman Black strengthened his guard rotation by acquiring Joseph Yeo and Jonathan Grey.
Anyway, I laughed when I read somewhere that Aljon Mariano is ecstatic that Ferrer is joining him in Ginebra. Maybe it’s a write up and Mariano wants to be polite but I doubt if Mariano really said this. Aljon knows he needs to outlast his former teammate to veer off from the dreaded sophomore slump and a possible return trip to the D-League. In order for Mariano to have a better impression, he needs to get more PBA exposure. I thought Ferrer’s entry would pave the way for the departure of Chris Ellis but I think Mariano will be trailing Mark Caguioa, Solomon Mercado, Joe Devance, Ferrer, Ellis, and Paolo Taha for time and touches. That’s a ton load of names!
Here’s an example. A couple of years ago, former Perpetual Help stars Harold Arboleda and Juneric Baloria were rookies at NLEX. Eventually, Baloria returned to the D-League while Arboleda was able to cling on.
The PBA is all about job security and the safest bet for all athletes is to look at everyone as foes.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am not a Growling Tiger hater. The reason I went to the college is because of the epic four-peat and I still think Aric del Rosario is one of the best Philippine basketball coaches ever. I was happy when I saw Allein Maliksi delivering the goods when James Yap’s career was napping because his off-court life is in cloud nine. I am just realistic. Maliksi’s rise will take a backseat for the entries of Paul Lee and Aldrech Ramos. Jeric Teng is still in search for a new team. Jeric Fortuna could lose his spot in GlobalPort.
I doubt if Dylan Ababou would revert back to his Super Ababou ways even if he gets traded to Blackwater.
And this is why I hate how the PBA handled its business with the special draft. I understand they followed a certain order but Ferrer is better off playing elsewhere. How is it training to have the player that will represent your country sitting in the sidelines of a club league game? It would be awesome to give Ferrer the same exposure that Blackwater will give to Mac Belo. Ferrer has range, swagger, and skills. Each and every time, Cone benches Ferrer would de-construct everything that’s working for him.
And it’s the same thing with Maliksi. Despite his accomplishments, Maliksi started last season dumb-founded because Jason Webb was benching him. Mahindra could use a guy like Maliksi to lead their scoring. I don’t know if Alex Mallari can exhibit the same scoring dominance because the latter is more of an orchestrator. The Floodbusters could use Maliksi to give LA Revilla more assists.
One of my dream scenarios back then was Cyrus Baguio battling against Nino Gelig in the PBA. They play the same position and display the same skills... and it’s going to be an awesome one-on-one showdown like an Ababou versus Maliksi matchup... or a Ferrer versus Mariano duel.
But again, let me be realistic. I wanted Jervy Cruz to shine with the Elasto Painters and it sickens me that Alwyn Espiritu, Henry Ong, Don Villamin, and Derrick Hubalde never made the PBA. I thought Christopher Cantonjos, Marvin Ortiguerra, Dale Singson, Edmund Reyes, Udoy Belmonte, Patrick Fran, Gerard Francisco, Richard Yee, Francis Allera, Jojo Duncil, Emerson Oreta, and Estong Ballesteros would make it big in the PBA.
Given the current UAAP season as well as how the draft was drawn, you just can’t keep this dejected feeling from me. Vigil, Sheriff, and Kent Lao needs to have a good PBA D-League showing to assure their selves that their names will be called in the 2017 PBA Draft. Vigil could get at least an early second round mention especially if he continues his gameplay with Tanduay. However, Sheriff needs to develop his offense. The PBA values two-way players. Even if Scottie Thompson is too unselfish, he has the tools to evade the shot blockers to sneak a glorious layup. If Japs Cuan never levelled up in his basketball career, then that’s ditto for the pint-sized playmaker. As far as Lao goes, maybe he can do an Allein Maliksi and do big outside the collegiate realm.
I hope Ferrer and Daquiaog will prove me wrong.
My alma mater needs awesome PBA representation.