NBA
No regrets for Ticzon
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2014 - 12:00am

Globalport coach Richie Ticzon recalled it was only a week before the PBA season started when he was offered the job on an interim basis to take over from Junel Baculi. But he had no second thoughts.

Ticzon, 42, was never a head coach so taking the hot seat with the Batang Pier was a huge risk. He’d been an assistant coach with Coca-Cola and FEU but calling the shots as the top dog was something new. It was an opportunity that he couldn’t turn down. Ticzon was originally brought in as a skills and shooting coach in the offseason then when Baculi stepped down, the chance of a lifetime came like a dream come true.

Ticzon played both in the PBA and MBA. He started his pro career with Purefoods and Shell, moved to Cagayan de Oro in the MBA and returned to the PBA with Alaska. In all, Ticzon logged seven PBA seasons and was known as a heady point guard. His experience as a pro is what’s keeping him in the right direction with Globalport.

Ticzon said inheriting a team with five rookies, eight holdovers and four veteran recruits was a major challenge. Globalport underwent a massive facelift to start the season, trading away stars Gary David and Willie Miller and letting go of Will Antonio, Alex Crisano, Chad Alonzo, Bryan Faundo, A. J. Mandani, Hans Thiele and Yousef Taha. The rookies are Terrence Romeo, R. R. Garcia, Justin Chua, Nico Salva and L. A. Revilla. Back for another tour of duty are Jay Washington, Sol Mercado, Jaypee Belencion, Mark Yee, Kelly Nabong, Rudy Lingganay, Jondan Salvador and Marvin Hayes. The veterans who climbed aboard are Eric Menk, Jewel Ponferada, Leo Najorda and Enrico Villanueva.

It’s a rebuilt lineup and Ticzon said the positive is the players are working hard to get to the next level. “Our veterans are coachable and they’re getting along well with the new guys,” he said. “We’re teaching the rookies what they can do to improve. We lack bigs who can score from inside so when we play a tall team like Ginebra, we try to keep the ball away from the post.”

* * * *

Globalport had a streak of three straight wins over Meralco, Rain Or Shine and Alaska to improve to 4-3 then suffered a horrendous slump, losing five in a row before defeating the Aces, 91-88, in overtime last Sunday. The Batang Pier closed out the eliminations with a 108-92 loss to Barangay Ginebra last Friday. Leading scorer Jay Washington sat out the last two contests with a partial tear in his right plantar fascia and won’t be ready for another week. What’s holding Globalport back is defense or lack of it. In its nine losses, the Batang Pier has given up over 100 points on the average. Defense is the hardest thing to make consistent for a team that’s still a work in progress.

But there are reasons for Ticzon to be optimistic of the future. Four of his five rookies have scored in double digits at least once. Romeo has established a reputation as an exciting and explosive point guard with a killer crossover that’s a certified ankle breaker. Nabong recently registered double-doubles in two successive games. Ponferada just collected 16 points and eight rebounds against Ginebra and in the same game, Menk resurrected his old self by compiling 17 points and 14 rebounds. Eventually, Ticzon will call on Villanueva to shore up the middle. Villanueva is in the injury list and undergoing knee rehab.

Team owner Mikee Romero isn’t used to losing but he knows success won’t come overnight for a team that’s just been reconstructed. The pieces are in place for a growth spurt and Ticzon looks like the right captain for the ship. No doubt, Globalport is the PBA’s team of the future. With maturity and chemistry, the Batang Pier will become a contender in time. How long Romero is willing to wait is the question mark.

* * * *

A player who’s showing clear signs of improvement is Nabong, a blue collar worker who backs down from no one. Last season, he averaged 4.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 14 minutes in 20 games. So far this conference, Nabong is norming 5.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 16.2 minutes. He’s a high-energy physical power forward. Against Petron, Nabong had 15 points and 11 rebounds and against Alaska, 13 points and 10 boards.

Nabong’s Filipina mother Kristina was born in San Francisco and traces her roots to Bulacan. He took his mother’s surname instead of his father’s which is Berry. Nabong is the only athlete in the family. He has two sisters, four stepsisters and five stepbrothers – a lot of mouths to feed, he chuckled. It was his mother who raised him as his father took off when he was a boy. That’s why he’d rather carry his mother’s surname although his father, who lives in Vallejo, California, has reconnected. Nabong, 25, was the captain of the Santa Rosa junior college varsity in California and played with Blackwater and Lhuillier in the PBA D-League before jumping to the PBA.

The eliminations end today. If playoffs are necessary for second and eighth places, they will be played tomorrow. The quarterfinals begin with the best-of-three series pitting No. 3 vs No. 6 and No. 4 vs No. 5 on Tuesday then No. 1 takes on No. 8 and No. 2 battles No. 7 on Wednesday with the higher seeds enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage.

 

AGAINST PETRON ALEX CRISANO BARANGAY GINEBRA BATANG PIER BLACKWATER AND LHUILLIER BRYAN FAUNDO GLOBALPORT JAY WASHINGTON NABONG TICZON
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