The ball is round
EVERY POUND COUNTS - Alan Choachoy (The Freeman) - May 24, 2014 - 12:00am

As expected, the top seeds in the NBA are in a dogfight on who will move into the highly-anticipated Finals. In the East, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are tied at one game apiece, while in the West, the San Antonio Spurs clearly had little trouble in cruising to a 2-0 lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Except for Miami, all of the teams had a rough first and second round during the playoffs.

When the playoff started, I mentioned that I want either San Antonio, Oklahoma or Indiana to win the NBA trophy. It’s been good so far as the three of them made it the conference finals. On the other hand, I also had my prediction that Miami will win it all. As of the moment though, it is still anybody’s ballgame.

For that matter, I took time to weigh down some key factors a team to progress in the finals and eventually bag the coveted championship trophy. Here's my list according to order.

Health:  The team that will remain injury-free until the end will clinch the championship. The light at the end of tunnel for OKC is getting dimmer with the injury of their top center Serge Ibaka, which out for the rest of the playoffs. For the Spurs, Tony Parker is listed day-to-day and is playing hurt with a hamstring injury.

Big Man: The team that dominates on the inside. When Michael Jordan rose to phenomenal stardom in the NBA, all the teams were scrambling to look for the next MJ and in the process forgot how important the Big Man is. A ‘Big Man’ has to dominate on both ends of the court–defense and offense.  In the case of Indiana, their success will depend on the performance of Roy Hibbert. In their six losses during the playoffs,

Hibbert was handcuffed to less than double figures in five out of six gfames and had to big fat zero. In sharp contrast, Hibbert posted double figures in all of Indiana wins, even exploding for 29 points at one point.

Teamwork: There is no “I” in the TEAM that’s why teamwork is a key element of a champion team. When a star player dribbles too much, then his team is in big trouble. That’s what happened to the Houston Rockets.  In all of their defeats during the first round of playoffs, James Harden hogged the ball too much, passes too late and forces a shot. The Rockets made the necessary adjustments but it was already too late as their offensive pattern became very predictable as they mainly rely on Dwight Howard at the low post. As what I observed, the team the best exemplify teamwork is the Spurs. They play excellent defense and switches on every screen their opponents initiate. They quickly adjust their offense and defense to counter the power of the other team. For now, the Thunder still couldn’t find the right formula to stop San Antonio’s triple threat of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Many Ginobili.

Consistency: Consistency goes to the Miami Heat. They are on cruise control and when the weakness of their rivals shows up, they always strike at every opportunity. Also, Lebron James is just excellent on all facets of the game. Gone are the days when King James forces the situation just to try to score in each possession. During their last game against the Pacers, he played center against Hibbert and even stole or swatted away at least two post-up moves from the Pacers’ Big Guy. Even thought they lost in the opener, the regrouped in time to equalize the series and more importantly wrest the homecourt advantage.

At the end of the conference finals, all I can say is that the ‘ball is round.’ To quote a famous line from the timeless flick “Forrest Gump,” it’s like a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you will get. But my gut feel says Oklahoma will be swept by the Spurs, while Indiana will lose the series to Miami in six games. Ultimately, my fearless forecast is that the Spurs and the Heat will slug it out in the NBA Finals for the second straight year. Should that happen, then hoop fans across the globe will again brace for an exciting and highly entertaining showdown.

SIDELINE: Congratulations to the members of the METAFIT Tri Team for making waves in the Bogo Triathlon recently. Romulo Rossel placed second, Guian Capacite wound up fourth, and Terence Fernandez ended up fifth in their respective age groups. Cheers also to the women’s team manned by Joy Ortaliz (swimmer), Leslie Peson (cyclist) and Donafel Tacandong (runner) for finishing third overall in the relay category, even outrunning some all-men relay team. Most of the winners had a sedentary lifestyle before joining the METAFIT Cebu Fitness Boot Bamp. Now, they have leveled up and joined the extreme sport of triathlon. The best of luck to all of you in your next stint, the Tabuelan 111 this June and the 70.3 Ironman this August.

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