Friday, July 15, 2016

The Paul Lee dilemma and Rain or Shine's options...

PBA fans have practically conceded that Paul Lee would eventually be traded to another PBA team soon. And it's not because Rain or Shine doesn't like him - Coach Yeng Guiao has said that Lee is their franchise player. 

The situation is complex because of the PBA's ruling that states any player who has played in the league for 7 years automatically becomes an unrestricted FA. Hence, Lee, who was drafted second overall in the 2011 season, will be free to sign up for any team of his choice by 2017. 

The caveat is that ROS is given an opportunity to give Lee a salary that's 20% higher than what other teams may offer him. Hence, if the maximum salary is P420k a month, ROS can give him a salary worth P504k a month. But will Lee and his manager, Lawrence Chongson, bite?

This is probably a foregone conclusion already. Not because ROS doesn't want him - just that they wouldn't be able to match the offers from the bigger conglomerates in terms of incentives, bonuses, and others that are not part of the salary cap.

The key though is the timing. There's likelihood that Lee will sign up for a one-year max contract and wait for next year where he'll be an unrestricted FA. Should they trade Lee as early as possible or wait in the middle of next season before giving him up?

The ROS dilemma is that the unrestricted FA status that Lee will carry after next season will dilute their bargaining leverage. Teams would be privy to Lee's intent of testing the market come the 2017-18 season and may not be amenable to a "just and fair" trade. Lee's value is definitely higher than just a first round pick and ROS can ask for another player in return - or get another team's first round pick plus an active player, while giving up Lee and their own active player that's lower in value. 

The best deal that ROS can get would be to give up Lee and, say, a Don Trollano, for Mahindra's first pick and a Bradwyn Guinto, or Blackwater's first pick and a JP Erram. That trade would be the closest to being equal in value.

However, will the two newer teams be willing to pay for Lee's maximum contract plus incentives, considering they're not exactly willing to spend that much? Similarly, with Lee's unrestricted FA status looming largely in the horizon, these two teams may find themselves in the same dilemma as ROS is now - where they may end up losing Lee come 2017. 

From what Chongson has written in the PinoyExchange boards before, he's bent on giving Lee the best deal possible when he becomes an unrestricted FA. The only teams capable of giving that much are the SMC and MPIC teams. These are the only companies that won't worry too much about Lee's contractual status come 2017 simply because they'll be more than willing to give this to him.

So what would happen if ROS deals directly with SMC and / or MPIC? Don't expect it to be an easy negotiation as these conglomerates will play "hard ball" in the trading table. Will ROS be willing to give Lee up for TNT's first round pick (which isn't going to be high because of their competitive status) and, say, a Ryan Reyes, who Guiao admires? Or Meralco with Nabong and their own first pick? 

Looking at the SMC side, will a Sangalang and a first round pick be enough to give up Lee and another ROS player? Or a first round pick and Dave Marcelo from Ginebra? Bottomline, it would be hard for ROS to extract fair compensation when they trade Lee so ROS fans would have to be lower their expectations.

This may end up getting messy in the end, but in the end, it seems there's nowhere else for Lee to go but for either conglomerate, no matter how much ROS values their recent Finals MVP.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The cause of Raymond Almazan's injury

Several fans have been asking how Raymond Almazan, the 6'8 beanpole center of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, got injured in practice prior to Game 3 of their Best of Seven series against the San Miguel Beermen. It indeed was quite unusual, especially for someone as important as Almazan, to suffer an ill-timed injury, at a crucial juncture.

While there's no one, not even Almazan, at ROS camp capable of stopping Junemar Fajardo, Almazan was the Painters' best hope of at least minimizing his effectiveness. Unlike the Extra Rice, Inc. - Beau Belga and JR Quiñahan, as well as Jewel Ponferrada, Almazan had some length that made it difficult for Fajardo to reach over from behind to get the rebound. At the same time, Almazan is an offensive threat that will force Fajardo to use up some energy to defend him.

So what happened? During practice, part of the rituals normally done by players is to body bump each other in celebration over a good move. Three players, Jireh Ibañes, Ponferrada and Almazan, saw the opportunity to body bump each other. While Almazan and Ibañes leaped as high as they can, Ponferrada unwittingly stayed on the floor. Upon landing, Almazan's foot hit Ponferrada's and painfully landed on the floor, twisting his ankle.

You can imagine how pissed Coach Yeng Guiao was after the incident. For ROS, losing Almazan for the series was extremely crucial. They can afford to lose a few of their guards, including the prolific Jericho Cruz, because they have a bevy of other talented guards who can take his place. The bigs are entirely different. Guiao rotates his 4 centers with almost equal playing time - losing one of them means the rotation suffers.

And now that Paul Lee himself would be out for the next 3-4 weeks due to a knee injury, hopes for the Painters to give their coach his first All Filipino crown has severely dimmed. Beating SMB two games in a row is already a near miraculous feat....what more winning 4 games against Alaska in the Finals minus Lee and a ginger-footed Almazan?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jeff Moore and Dennis Still comments on Jacobs

Was fortunate enough to receive replies from Dennis Still and Jeff Moore regarding my request to write their personal tribute to Ron Jacobs.

Allow me to post these:

From Dennis Still:

"One thing I can say about him he was a great teacher; he knew how to coach players and put them in the right spot. He always treated me like his own son and I always could talk to him about all kinds of things even at a young age. I think Coach Ron, among all kinds of coaches from different countries, but overall he was the best and there is no other coach in the Philippines who could do what he did with the Filipino young team. To beat United States two times, he knew what kind of player I was in that he let me play my game. He knew how to talk to me, to calm me down when I was ready to tear some heads off, LOL. I will always remember him. I'm hoping that I can come back and get with all the players it was my first ever best team I played with. I will miss him a lot."

From Jeffrey Moore:

"What can I say about Ron Jacob the man the legend the friend the father figure to me and so many more. This man meant the world to me, as a young man out of Tucson Arizona took me under his wings, he gave me a home like it was my own. You watched over me and guided me through life we made our way to Loyola Marymount where we had an incredible run changed the entire program around in one year. Two years later we're off to do the same in the Philippines where as history shows we did the same. This man taught me the true value of being a friend taught me to be patient to be understanding but more importantly taught me how to fight for what is right. There has never been a coach in my long history of playing the game of basketball that I wanted to do whatever it took to win for him. Truly I branch out into my coaching career no one inspired me more to become a coach then Ron Jacobs. I just feel so bad that I never had a chance to tell him how I feel and to tell him truly how much I love him and respected him as a human being. He will be missed by so many but most importantly by me. Rest in peace my friend, may God bless you and we miss you......"

Friday, January 8, 2016

When a Commissioner goes overboard..

Can't help but shake my head with the recent actions of Commissioner Chito Narvasa. He found himself not just right in the middle of a near brawl between the protagonists from the Alaska Aces and the Global Port Batang Pier teams, but in the center of the headlines once more.

Hard not to question Narvasa's decision to enter the court and help out in pacifying everyone - he was simply being pro-active and wanted to settle the situation the best way he knew. Personally, I'd rather see the Commissioner giving his officials enough latitude to run things on their own - it wasn't like it was a blown-up fisticuffs happening in our midst. I won't take it against him if he remained seated and watched the proceedings from his box - he'd have a better vantage point, particularly when he starts deliberating what sanctions are to be imposed.

But since Narvasa felt that he was needed inside the court, as if his underlings could not control the situation, I'll let this micro management pass. What is irritating and purely wrong was admonishing Alaska Ace Dondon Hontiveros. Instead of the pacifier, he became part of the tension. Instead of providing esteem to the office he occupies, he desecrated it.

No matter how Narvasa justified his acts, it was clear that he exacerbated the situation. Worse, he directed his ire on one particular individual, Hontiveros, who claimed that he was merely there to help control Jay Washington, a personal friend. To point his finger at Hontiveros at the heat of the moment betrays what Narvasa may be all about - an absolute control freak with narcissistic and authoritative tendencies.

That one single move of Narvasa last Wednesday night may perhaps be the most stupid act ever made by a PBA Commissioner in league history. I've criticized Chito Salud severely during his entire tenure as "kume" but Narvasa makes Salud appear like a Hall of Famer...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tim Cone at Ginebra - An Odd Fit?

Personal Musings: Tim Cone With Ginebra
Over the years, while I’ve expressed strong opinions on certain topics dealing with the league, I intentionally approached these from the vantage point of a neutral basketball follower.  This time around though, please allow me some latitude as I make my point from another view – that of a former team fan, in particular, Ginebra.

From 1986 to 1998, I’d like to believe I was the most ardent Ginebra fan you can ever find. There was nothing wrong with the team for me – I rationalized their actions, whether right or wrong. Friends ribbed me for becoming a “traitor,” as I originally cheered for the Crispa Redmanizers. To root for someone who was considered Crispa’s biggest “enemy” back then – Robert Jaworski, Sr. – was the last thing they’d expect from this basketball follower. But I did, triggered by Coach Jaworski’s hiring of former Crispa super import Billy Ray Bates in the 1986 Open Conference.


I shared the glory and heartaches of every Ginebra fan back then. When the team ran roughshod of Manila Beer in that same 1986 conference, I still see vignettes of the games played – how Billy Ray Bates stormed from court-to-court with 5 seconds left with the game tied at 133 to score a buzzer-beating slam that gave the Gins a 1-0 lead in their best of seven encounter. Or the heroism of

LIM ENG BENG (1941-2015)

Today, we lost another basketball hero. Lim Eng Beng, perhaps one of the greatest clutch players in PHL basketball history, passed on at the age of 64 after a bout of liver cancer. 

Many old-time fans would remember LEB's initial collegiate exploits as a Dela Salle Green Archer who led the Taft-based squad to two NCAA championships. He also continues to hold the NCAA record for most number of points in a game with 55 points, a testament to his prolific offensive ways. We have to remember that this was prior to the advent of the three-point shot, so making 55 points was quite an accomplishment back then.

He played 12 non-consecutive seasons in the PBA. He first played for the Carrier Weathermakers and was the star player of that team alongside Alfonso "Boy" Mora, Jimmy Mariano, the original ironman Jimmy Noblezada, wily point guard Joy Dionisio, and center Genny Lucindo. 

What many won't know is that LEB is perhaps Tommy Manotoc's favorite player of all time. Manotoc, himself a DLSU alumnus, almost always wanted LEB to be part of his teams in the PBA. In 1976, Manotoc,

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Coach Ron Jacobs - Learning To Believe Again

Getting The Call

When Ron Jacobs was tapped by then project director for basketball, Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., to take over the running of the PHL national team, it was a bold step that no one expected. At that time, Filipino basketball fans believed that the best players from Asia were the Filipinos handled by the best coaches in the region. Unfortunately, because the best players were at the PBA and pro players weren't allowed to suit up for the national team at that time, the Philippines