The Coming Decline of Philippine Basketball

Now that the Philippine Basketball Association’s commitment to the National Team has ended, and it will not be sending its players to major international competitions again, I expect a further decline in the quality of Philippine Basketball in the next coming years.

Like it or not, the PBA plays a big role on where the quality of Philippine Basketball goes, because it is where our best players are in right now, and where our best players will eventually be. So any changes it does will likely trickle down to the mindset of the colleges and amateur players in the country.

‘Shift in Focus’
The problem with not playing in international competitions, is that it will shift the focus of the PBA from COMPETITION, to ENTERTAINMENT. And unfortunately for us, those two do not compliment each other. What is good for one, will be bad for the other.

Free from the thoughts of whether its players will be competitive internationally, the PBA will go on tweaking its rules to cater more to the fans, at the expense of its competitiveness in international competitions.

The PBA will seek to keep changing more its rules to ensure that its players gets its basket on a silver platter,
because it “looks good” to the fans.
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PBA Games Recap 051608

I haven’t watched a Philippine Baskeball Association (PBA) game in months now, after that unfortunate incident I had at the Cuneta Astrodome. But I finally got to watch a game live last Friday, May 16, 2008 at the Araneta Coliseum, my first for this conference. Below are the some the highlights of the game:

COCA COLA VS. AIR21

Air21 lead most of the way & eventually won the game due to the hot hands of Ranidel De Ocampo & KG Canaleta. Coca-Cola tried to rally in the 2nd half mainly thru the efforts of Ronjay Buenafe, but to no avail.

Regarding the imports, Coke’s import, JASON DIXON, has not been as highly touted this conference as Adam Parada, but he sure does get the job done. Wide-body, great post player, very steady on offense creating his own shots posting down low. His counterpart at Air21, STEVEN THOMAS, was pretty steady also w/ his perimeter shots. However, I did notice him to be having a bit of butterfingers, losing the ball off the dribble on at least 2 occassions after being bumped.

KG CANALETA had one of his rare great offensive nights, hitting shots from all over the floor, punctuated by a one-handed slam in the 2nd half in traffic. RANIDEL DE OCAMPO also came to play. When he is “In The Zone”, no doubt he is one of the best one-on-one post players in the country. He is a bit inconsistent, though.
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The 3 Conference Format In The PBA

The PBA Board of Governors have issued some statements a couple of weeks ago, indicating their desire to return back to the 3-conference per season format (from the current 2-conference per season format) by the next season or so.

This got me to thinking: Despite all the fan feedback, despite all the success of the current 2 conference format, why would the PBA bigwigs insist on going back to a 3 conference format? What’s the driving reason behind it?

Initially, I thought that GREED was the main driving reason behind it, in terms of giving more teams more exposure since there are more championships to win. But then I realize, that another possible motivation for the PBA to go into a 3 conference format, is behind 2 words: LIGA PILIPINAS.

‘Competition’

Liga Pilipinas raises the spectre of the MBA being resurected again in another form. True, the MBA was a business failure, but it definitely was NOT a failure in terms of popularity. The fact that people still talk & recall the league generally w/ fondness even though it closed down 6 long years ago I feel is a testament to its popularity.
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"Sky-rus" Baguio's Game

I have to say that among the players in the PBA right now, “Sky-rus” Baguio has got to be my favorite player, mainly because he plays very similar to Samboy Lim or Paul Alvarez.

Good height, terrific ball-handling, & w/ a great first step, he can beat almost anybody off the dribble. Capable of great bursts of speed. His great leaping ability & upper body strength gives him that terrific hang time, enabling him to hit difficult, off-balanced layups consistently on a good shooting percentage. Good medium range shot, too, & good basketball instincts.

He generates so many highlight reel hang time moves game in & game out, that just like Samboy or Paul, everytime he touches the ball on offense, you could feel the buzz start to rise, w/ everybody excited & waiting for him to do something spectacular out there on the floor on offense.
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Possible Air21 Trades

“Than” of Pex has come up w/ a blind item about PBA trade rumors. Below are my opinions about these possible trades (Note: The player names & teams are all out of guesswork & by no means necessarily factual):

Arwind Santos & Doug Kramer for Yancy De Ocampo & Renren Ritualo:

* I have reservations about trading Arwind, but maybe if the right offer comes along ….

* Doug is a good role player for the team, but if they can get Yancy for him, then so be it. Yancy has a lot of upside on both ends of the court, even if his stats are down playing behind Asi & Jay.

* I don’t think Renren can be as, or more productive than Arwind, though. They’re hoping Yancy’s production will offset that, but its a bit of risk for me.
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2007 PBA Rookie Performance – Nov. 2007

* I’ve been keeping a close watch on the rookies that have entered the PBA for the 2007-2008 season.

As of Nov. 4, 2007:

Ronjay Buenafe
– 31.50 mpg, 14.75 ppg, 8/34 (23.53%) 3-pt. ave. (poor 3-point shooting), 9/15 (60%) 2-pt. ave. (excellent 2-point shooting)
– Ronjay was picked no. 11 in the PBA Rookie draft, & has FAR outperformed both JC Intal (picked no. 4) & Ryan Reyes (picked no. 3) at this point in the season.

Joe Devance
– 25 mpg, 11.6 ppg, 8/25 (32%) 3-pt. ave. (average 3-point shooting), 13/33 (39.39%) 2-pt. ave. (poor 2-point shooting)

JC Intal
– 16.25 mpg, 3.25 ppg, 0/6 (0%) 3-point ave. (terrible 3-point shooting), 6/17 (35.29%) 2-pt. ave. (poor 2-point shooting)
– Picked no. 4 in the draft, miserable shooting from the floor. “The Rocket” has been a dud thus far in the PBA. If he doesn’t improve, he could be out of the league in a season or two
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Whats Wrong With The P.B.A.

I’ve been hanging around Pinoy Message Boards long enough to know that there have been a couple of “What’s-wrong-with-the-PBA” thead that has been posted around in the past. And am willing to bet, there will be more similar types of threads that will be posted in the near future.

In fact, what I’m doing, is simply putting my comments on the subject on my webpage so that a couple of months down the road, when the question gets to be asked again, I’m just gonna put a link as my comments.

This subject has been analyzed and discussed to death. The answers are already there, it’s just that the PBA chose to ignore them.

Has actions been taken to try to improve the league? Yes, they have. But these are mainly TOKEN actions. All we see are cheap publicity stunts, like allowing the players to model around in malls.

Sure, they replaced the previous Commissioner too identified with Danding C., but unfortunately, the guy they replaced him with is a jerk who once insisted on National TV that Eric Menk will pulverize Bateer Menky in the Asian games.

Required Actions

There hasn’t really been CONCRETE ACTIONS that were done. What are these concrete actions, then?

For me, it should be:

a) Switch to a community-based format. I read a lot of people talk about the need for the league to connect with it’s fans. I can’t think of a better way for the PBA to establish a connection with fans than having a group of people come up with a team they can truly call their own, instead of some impersonal corporate entity.

b) Increased exposure in international competitions. Enough of this “the PBA is the best” bullshi_. It’s not, period. Let’s stop this isolation from the rest of the world, and go in and try to give our players a much better standard to live up to. This can only be done by constant competition with the rest of the world.

Reasons

But then, there are a couple of reasons I can think of as to why the PBA hasn’t done these things yet inspite of these answers right there in front of their faces for some time now.

a) Pride. Community-based format on a large scale was pioneered by the now defunct MBA, and throughout it’s existence, the PBA has done nothing but to try to put that league down. Despite the fact that it is now in increasingly desperate situation, I guess things aren’t that desperate enough yet for them to swallow their pride and admit that a community-based format is better than what they have right now. I guess we’ll just have to wait a little longer, then.

b) Unwillingness to make sacrifices. For the PBA, the actions that needed to be done just disrupts too much the status quo. It doesn’t jibe with THEY want.

First, regarding that community-based format. Right now, the PBA cites “costs” as the main reason for not adopting it. I think it’s bullshi_. If there’s a will, there’s a way. If there’s no will, then there’s no way. Costs can be minimalized by locating the teams in Metro Manila and outlying provinces. Farther areas can be integrated later, when the league becomes more successful.

Second, they cite “schedule disruptions” as the reason for not allowing their players to compete in international competitions on a regular basis. Yeah, right, as if that were such an insurmountable problem.

c) False sense of security. In the minds of the people behind the PBA, they probably subscribe to the theory that, since there are no other sport which Pinoys have entertained as much as basketball until now, then the way they see it, no matter how shi__y their product is, Pinoys won’t have any choice but to go back to watching basketball since there are no alternatives.

They’re probably thinking, “sure, y’all can complain all you want now, but sooner or later, you’re gonna miss basketball, and you’ll be running all the way back to our mediocre arms. Ha-ha-ha”.

Or so they thought. Am betting that they will be in for a very, very big surprise if they keep entertaining that thought.

They have to be force-fed

The PBA won’t take the actions that are needed to improve the league unless they are put in a position where they have no choice but to try them out. They have to be FORCED into taking such actions. Otherwise, they are just going to continue tolerating the mediocre brand of play they keep dishing out.

So am just gonna sit back, and wait. I just hope for them that, when the time comes such that the situation for them becomes dire enough, it won’t be too late, and that the actions they are going to take will still be enough to turn the league around.