Nokia-RP vs. San Mig Coffee 042608

* I was able to watch the RP Youth vs. San Mig Coffee game in the PBL starting from 5 minutes into the 2nd Quarter. I watched the game, because I wanted to see the new additions, & also to see if there were any improvements w/ the holdovers.

* The first thing I noticed w/ the RP Youth Team, was Norbert Torres, simply because he was the tallest player out there on the court. He is visibly 2-3″ taller than Ford Arao, who is listed as 6’4″-6’5″, making Norbert around 6’6″-6’7″. Am willing to bet, though, that he is around 6’7″.

* The 2nd thing that surprised me about Norbert, was his lack of athleticism. I was expecting a tall & athletic big man, but he was visibly not quick or fast. Nor is he a good leaper, I saw him get blocked at least thrice in the game. What he DOES have, is height, heft, heart, & great coordination. That coordination allowed him to do almost anything w/ the ball out there on the court, whether it is posting down low, or for those drive in plays to the basket.

* He reminds me of a young Rabeh Al-Husseini: They are almost the same height, same build, same skill set (i.e., not athletic, but good coordination). What differentiates Norbert from Rabeh, though, is that Norbert is not afraid to play physical & throw his weight around the paint. Remember that he is only around 17 years old, & he was banging bodies w/ veterans in their mid-twenties like Joel Solis & Ford Arao, & coming out on top.

* Kyle Pascual was a big disappointment. He’s not as tall or as hefty as Norbert, & was a non-factor in the paint. He made a mid-range shot, & that was it. No rebounds, low post plays, etc. Also seems to have bad hands, losing the ball twice on his own.

* Samuel Marata had a good shooting game, making all 4 of his perimeter shots in the game. Papot Paredes was in Franz’s doghouse. I don’t know if he’s injured, or maybe Franz is keeping him as a “secret” weapon, or maybe he’s just not good enough to be in the rotation. Golla lost a lot of weight, I almost didn’t recognize him, but not much improvement in his game.

* Sangalang is tall, around 6’5″, but reed-thin, so he wasn’t a factor in the paint either. Showed surprising quickness on one play, though, w/ a nice, quick drive to the hoop. Maybe he can be developed as a 3 in college.

* Aside from Norbert, though, no other Youth player seems to be worthy enough to mention, & that is a problem, because Norbert can’t do it all. He will need solid contributions from his teammates in the Asian-level games.

* San Mig Coffee won by 16 pts., 76-60, courtesy of San Mig’s main guns like Joel Solis & Bon-Bon Custodio. The game was closer than what the final score showed, though, w/ San Mig leading by only 3 pts., 33-30 at the half, & also only by 3 pts. at the end of the 3rd quarter, 52-49.

* I think the creditable performance by the RP Youth Team is because the players seems to have gotten used to the physical play. They were almost business-like in dealing w/ the physical game, like: “We’ll go about our plays, never mind if we get bumped around”.

* San Mig also didn’t do a full-court press a lot in the game, the Youth team’s Waterloo before. They did do a full court press in the last 2 minutes of the game, but when they did, Norbert did a beautiful job anchoring the middle of the press break. He receives the ball in the middle in the court, & w/ his decent ballhandling dribbled it twice or thrice beyond the midcourt, then passed it off to the wings. His height allowed him good vision of the court over the opponent who was guarding him.

* Another factor is for the team is Norbert Torres. Suddenly the team has a presence in the paint that can rebound, score, intimidate on defense & anchor the press break. I think Norbert should just stay in the country, become a UAAP or NCAA star, then later have a good shot at the PBA. That lack of athleticism will give him problems against taller, more athletic players in the US NCAA Div. 1, anyway.

* I think the team is ready for the SEABA tournament. The Asian-games level tournament, though, is another matter.

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