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2014-15 Blackwater Elite and KIA Sorento Primer

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To celebrate the 40th season of Asia’s premiere basketball league, the PBA expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams.

Why corporations enter the league

The PBA is quite different from its western counterparts. Teams in the league don’t represent a town, a city or a province. The teams in the PBA represent a corporation, so technically each team that consists of “jocks” is managed and owned by “nerds”.

So why do these corporations spend more than a 100 million pesos to run a sports team?

In an episode of Pinoy Hoops: Dream Country by Rafe Bartholomew, Alaska Aces owner Fred Uytengsu discussed how the product advertised by a PBA franchise, especially if they win a championship, always translated to sales.

Thinking about it, owning a PBA team is cheaper compared to buying 15 to 30 second spots on TV. We will discuss this in further detail in a separate article.

Finally, for some owners and entrepreneurs, competing against fellow entrepreneurs and beating them on the hard-court is an ego boost to them.

The corporations that made the cut: Columbian Autocar Corporation and Ever Bilena Cosmetics Incorporated

Rumors circulated early this year about the corporations that were interested in joining the league. A list of the rumored entries included the Jollibee Corporation, the SM group, another MVP company, Phoenix Petroleum, a La Tondena brand, a car manufacturer and the Ever Bilena Corporation.

As we all know, the North Luzon Expressway Corporation bought out the Air21 Express franchise to avoid the dispersal draft. The Columbian Autocar Corporation and the Ever Bilena Cosmetics Incorporated made the final cut for the teams.

How different did these two corporations approach their first season

After discussing the benefits of having a PBA franchise, the Columbian Autocar Corporation and the Ever Bilena Cosmetics Incorporated made two distinct approaches in building their roster for year 1.

Team name

The Columbian Autocar Corporation picked the name KIA Sorento as the team that will represent the corporation. Placing the car model in the teams name and moniker is the ultimate throwback to a legendary car brand team from the past, the Toyota Super Corolas. The Sorento is the top selling sports utility vehicle for KIA.

For the team name, we give the KIA Sorento a B.

The Ever Bilena Cosmetics Incorporated has a huge product line to choose from to advertise in the league. However, majority of that product line ranges from eyeliners to mascaras to whitening creams and lipsticks, in other words, female products. Well, the Ever Bilena line also has the widely successful Blackwater cologne in their line. Moreover, the brand had a good run in the PBA’s developmental league. From there the team chose the moniker Elite which we at the Wire love.

For the team name, we give the Blackwater Elite an A+.

Roster 

Now this is where it gets tricky. Here’s the list of the current depth charts for both teams:

Projected Depth Chart: KIA
CReil CervantesMike BurstcherAngelus Raymundo
FHans ThieleRich AlvarezRichard Alonzo
FPaul SangaJoshua WebbKenneth Ighalo
GAlvin PadillaEder John SalduaJR Buencuseco
GRudy LingganayLA RevillaManny Pacquiao

vs.

Projected Depth Chart: Blackwater
CJason BallesterosBryan FaundoGilbert Bulawan
FLarry RodriguezEddie LaureBambam Gamalinda
FOgie MenorJR CawalingBacon Austria
GAlex NuylesSunday SalvacionBrian Huruela
GChris TimberlakePaul ArtadiJuami Tiongson

 

Given the circumstances given to both teams, the teams initially built their roster based on players released by the initial 10 teams. Both teams were also given the last two picks for the 2014 rookie draft in the first 2 rounds and all the picks there after.

KIA Sorento Roster 

The team’s management was frowned upon after the team selected Manny Pacquiao, the team’s playing coach, as their first pick in a pretty stacked draft class. Now, we at the Wire think that there was logic to that madness.

In building a basketball franchise, everyone knows that they should form a team with a solid line-up that will compete every night. In the backend though, the team’s management should be able to market the team well to build a fan base and to promote a product.

The KIA Sorento, for their 1st year in the pros, made marketing their priority. How many times, in our lifetime, can we see Manny Pacquiao compete in a Philippine arena in any sport? This would translate to ticket sales and other sources of revenue for the team, including jersey and merchandise sales.

On the other hand, however, the team failed to build a competitive team. A lot of questions have been raised with regards to the team’s roster. Where will the points come from? What offensive scheme will they run? What will the team’s rotation look like?

Blackwater Elite

If the Sorentos focused more on the marketing side of sports management, Ever Bilena owner Mr. Dioceldo Sy focused on respectability. The team followed the footsteps of the Elasto Painters franchise in which years and years of patience eventually paid-off. It took the Elasto Painters 6 years before the team became part of the upper echelon of teams in the league.

On paper, the team drafted well during the dispersal draft and the rookie draft. The Elite have an excellent point guard rotation with veterans Chris Timberlake and Paul Artadi leading the way. Uber-athletic Alex Nuyles is an excellent pick-up and will be the team’s leading scorer. The frontline of the team, Ballesteros, Larry Rodriguez, and Eddie Laure, will not be push-overs as well. And we cannot wait for the PBA debut of super scorer Juneric Baloria once the NCAA season is over.

Our predictions: 

The Sorentos will fail to register a win this conference but the crowds will show-up every night just to see the Fighting Pride of the Philippines play ball.

Sorento 2014 Philippine Cup prediction: 12th place, eliminated in the elimination round

The Elite, on the other hand, will score some wins and even upset some of the top 10 teams. However, this won’t be enough for them to advance to the wildcard phase of the tournament.

Elite 2014 Philippine Cup prediction: 11th place, eliminated in the elimination round

 2014-15 PBA Philippine Cup Primers


TBT - PBA - Alaska Aces-01TBT - PBA - Barako Bull-01
TBT - PBA - Ginebra Gin Kings-01TBT - PBA - Global Port Batang Pier-01
TBT - PBA - Meralco Bolts-01TBT - PBA - NLEX Roadwarriors-01
TBT - PBA - Purefoods Hotshots-01TBT - PBA - Rain or Shine Elasto Painters-01
TBT - PBA - San Miguel Beermen-01TBT - PBA - Talk N Text Tropang Texters-01
TBT - PBA - Blackwater Elite & Kia Sorrento-01
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Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’

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Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence

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For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense

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Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs

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It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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