Ode to Petron’s Implosion

Pio Garcia - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Petron Blaze has dug itself a 0-2 hole and is on the verge of imploding in the PBA Philippine Cup. Now, while it is not impossible to climb from that hole and still end up winning the series, their cause is not helped by an offense that does not take advantage of their biggest – literally – advantage. After starting on top, it looks like Junemar Fajardo will end up frustrated by those who surround him. Say, an MVP who disappears, a struggling point and a coach who doesn’t seem to know what to do.

What makes a true MVP?

Is it the stats? The leadership? The intangibles on the court? Being there when your team needs you? All of the above? Yeah? I thought so as well. See, there’s this thing called the PBA MVP and he’s named Arwind Santos. But he’s not playing like he deserves that recognition. Heck, I can make a case that he’s not even the team’s go-to star yet wants to take all those shots but end up bricking a ton.

It seems as if Santos is afraid of the playoffs.

 Thing is, dude was playing crazy in the elims racking up stats. But come playoffs, he channels his inner Carlos Boozer. The numbers will still be there, but that’s a huge helping of stat padding since the game has been lost. He doesn’t seem to be unfazed that he is on a James Yap-worthy bricking session and still puts it up, following the ball as it races to the rack since he is not even sure that it will go in, which is really a useless skill (and that backboard kicking after dunks, come on, T the guy up refs). Right now, you just can’t feel that the MVP award was worth it.

Yes, I still smart from that robbery on LA Tenorio. I mean, come on, take Tenorio out of Baranggay Ginebra and they won’t run as well as they have been running. Greg Slaughter won’t get his touches where he wants them. Japeth Aguilar won’t be blowing up if LA wasn’t there to give it to him where he can score buckets. Also, he’s willing to shoulder any blame that comes their way if Ginebra stank in their match. Arwind? Nah. That guy will slide and direct any questions towards other personnel. He’s not willing to take the blame. I think I know why Renaldo Balkman tried to Sprewell him last time he was here.

Same goes with “The Crunchman” Alex Cabagnot. I don’t know what kind of blinders people use when they watch Cabagnot. They say he’s spectacular. They say he is the next Mark Caguioa (dude dropped an egg when he was first matched up against the Spark in his Sta. Lucia days). His biggest fan says he is the most clutch after two game-winners. I beg to disagree. Cabagnot is pedestrian at best and just an awful sight to see when he’s on ballhog mode.

Point guards keep the ball moving, son. Cabagnot pounds the air out of the ball in their offensive sets making it look ugly. Heck, Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter can run the team better than him. To be honest, I’d love to see Chris Ross run this team than A-Cab. Ross is the real point guard here. Give him the keys. Cabagnot? He looks for his shot first by over-dribbling like crazy before deciding to look for his bigs instead.

Nothing frustrates a big man more than having successfully positioned himself for an easy go at the bucket but does not receive the pass not because of the defense. You can just see the anguish on Junemar’s face each time he has successfully sealed Larry Rodriguez, Jervy Cruz, or Beau Belga but did not get the ball. It would be easier if you play through your big guy than needlessly flattening the ball with your dribble.

Which brings us to coach Gee and how he is utilizing every player he has at his disposal. I don’t know what’s with his offensive sets. You have the best center the PBA has had in years and yet all you want him to do is rebound and score some putbacks.  You want him to post up yet your points guard decides he wants his own show and you do nothing.  Come on man. Get your act together. Yeng Guiao, Paul Lee and Beau Belga are Tiutorizing you for crying out loud.

You have a plethora of shooters who can open up the lane for the Kraken yet they bunch up on same sides most of the time creating spacing problems on the floor. Your MVP can’t play off the ball and you have to baby-sit him. He doesn’t even want to play the position you want him to play. He can’t even guard a rookie. Lutz and Lassiter are wasting away instead of killing their man off the dribble for a nifty sure jumper. Ross can run this team better. Paolo Hubalde should be given more bursts off the bench even if Alex Nuyles is brutalizing him on the other end.

The options are so simple for you to pound out a win. Spread the floor, give Junemar space to work with, utilize your Gilas 1 boys Lutz and Lassiter to give Rain or Shine wings major headaches. More than the Xs and Os, Petron has to abandon the Arwind ship for the Junemar ship.

Come on guys, Junemar is your true MVP.

Send your letters of complaint, protest or blind hate to @PioVGarcia.











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