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Stats Don’t Lie: How Ginebra Can Fit Japeth Aguilar into the Triangle

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Truth be told, Coach Cone has a tall task ahead of him – the Gin Kings haven’t won a championship in 7 years and expectations are that he’ll turn them into contenders immediately. Cone has already gone on record saying that the lineup is unbalanced and has way too many guards – small guards for that matter – on the roster. To address this, Cone is said to be looking to make some moves to help create more balance at all positions.

That being said, all bets are off on who can be traded except for two players – Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar. Keeping Greg is a no-brainer – the guy just made the Mythical 5 team last season. Cone loves his big men and Slaughter will most surely be the fulcrum of his patented triangle offense.

The big question though is how can Japeth Aguilar thrive in that system?

Haters point to his motor and basketball IQ as reasons why he isn’t dominating the league despite his superb criticism. Believers however, see that a quiet kid listening to orders of his coach and a player who puts the team first. He’s simply overwhelmed by all the strong personalities on his team, that whenever he makes a mistake, his confidence gets shaken and his game suffers. Aguilar’s mental fortitude will be tested under Cone, whose intricate system may take time to grow on the Gin Kings.

Luckily for Japeth, he’s already been exposed to triangle offense, as that’s what the Gin Kings “ran” during Jeffrey Cariaso’s two conferences with the teams. The numbers also bear out that some of Aguilar’s best work came when Ginebra was running the triangle.

Here’s a look at his per-36 minute numbers over the past two seasons:

Japeth Aguilar's Per-36 numbers from HumbleBola.com

Japeth Aguilar’s Per-36 numbers from HumbleBola.com

The numbers show that Aguilar posted his 2nd highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating – a stat that takes into account all basic box score numbers) of the last two years, and the highest FG% and rebounds per-36 min.

Detractors may say that he didn’t even post his highest points per game per-36 min under the triangle. But keep note that unlike Coach Frankie Lim’s system – which featured heavy post play, which resulted in more touches for the bigs– the triangle is really an equal opportunity offense. All players can (for the most part) play all spots on the floor, and players are taught to make reads based on what the defense is doing. Straight up isolation plays is NOT what the system is after.

With all that said, is Japeth really a good fit for the triangle or not?

Here are some ways that Coach Tim may end up using Japeth:

NOT as the featured post player on the 1-pass.

Posting a Triangle Offense for Dummies guide here would take far too long, so I’ll just use simple diagrams and screen caps to explain the positions on the court.

The 1-Pass is the “first” option of the triangle. It’s an entry pass into the post, and based on how the defense is playing you, you make your reads.

We can probably expect Slaughter to be in this slot most of the time. The guy is a monster in the post and demands a double team. Why not give it to the biggest guy in the league in the post if you can, right?

Now, if Aguilar were to be the “featured” post player and receive the ball in the 1-pass, it wouldn’t be to his strengths. He’s not a play-maker who sets up his teammates and under the triangle, bigs are taught to be passers first before looking for their own shot. It makes more sense to have Greg be the primary post big, which leaves Japeth to work off the ball, where he is a lot more mobile and a lot more dangerous.

Pinch Post

With Greg in the low block, Japeth will spend a lot of time on the weak side of the triangle, as a threat in the pinch post – that area around the elbows.

While he does have a solid jumper, Japther is at his best when he uses his quickness and agility to attack the basket. He converted on 45% of his drives to the basket, and drew free throws on a staggering 30% of them. If Japeth is matched up against a slower forward on the pinch post, he can put the ball on the floor and attack with minimal help coming, as the other opposing big man will be busy doing his best WWE impersonation on Slaughter.

2-Pass ball screen

The 2-pass is simply the second read of the triangle offense. If you can’t get the ball in the post, you reverse it to the top of the key.

Depending on where players are on the floor, there are several reads, but one pet action that Tim Cone used tons with Purefoods was having that action result in a ball screen for a scoring guard. Back in Purefoods, that was normally James Yap – in Ginebra, we may see Tenorio, Mercado, or Caguiao in that spot.

This is where Japeth can really shine. Not only does he have a good medium range jumper, but he’s a great finisher rolling to the basket after setting ball screens. Add in the fact that he’s draws tons of fouls when doing so (40% of all B/S he draws free throws), this could be a high point per possession proposition for him.

TRIPLE POST OFFENSE

Ever since Cone used this simple, non-triangle triple post action to great success at Purefoods, we’ve seen other teams pick it up as well. Here’s a clip of Purefoods running it last conference:

Now imagine this play involving Slaughter, Aguilar, and an import? Opposing defenders will naturally be focused on Greg and the import, which could leave Japeth with clean looks of flashes in the mid-post or drop passes under the basket.

Career Year for Japeth?

This will all come down to how Aguilar handles all the pressure. At 28 years old, he’s entering his prime and it’s about time that he lives up to all the expectations. History has told us not to hope too much, as Japeth hasn’t delivered. However, I can’t help but feel that under the guidance of Tim Cone, Aguilar may finally take the next step towards superstardom.

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Chooks-to-Go President hopes to break PH Arena record come 3×3 World Cup

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Last October 27, 2017, Game Seven of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals that pitted heated rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Meralco Bolts saw 54,083 people troop to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The attendance broke all records for both the venue and the PBA.

Come June this year, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and Chooks-to-Go are hoping that the upcoming 2018 FIBA 3×3 World Cup will surpass that record.

“We look at 3×3 as our best hope, really, to get a medal in the Olympics. Kami naman sa Chooks, we are behind SBP realizing that dream. Kanina pinag-uusapan na, if we’re going to break the record in attendance,” said Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas Thursday afternoon during a press conference held at BGC High Street in Taguig.

“I think the question there is not if we’re going to break, but how many more times. Because FIBA should see how passionate the Filipinos are about basketball. That’s a given,” one of the patrons of Gilas Pilipinas added.

Besides the event itself, the local government of Bulacan has pledged to make the week of the tournament filled with activities to celebrate the Philippines’ 120th year of Independence.

For their part, Chooks-to-Go vowed to help out the SBP in organizing the event and in building the team.

“We are throwing our support not to improve on our finish, but we want to help SBP organize, to win the championship — not just to improve our ranking,” Mascariñas shared.

And the experience he and his company gained after backing the Pilipinas 3×3 team during last year’s tournament will only help.

“In past tournaments, we’ve lost some games na maninipis lang talaga,” he recalled about the team that was composed of Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, and JR Quinahan that competed in Nantes, France.

“This time around, with five months to go, we need to organize and put in the best team to win the championship.”

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Football

Ilocos United takes leave from PFL

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Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United formally announced its absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.
A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave its thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While its PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs it started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There aren’t a lot of corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Basketball

CJ Perez, Jaycee Marcelino in unison: D-League is a whole other level

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After falling just two games short to cop Lyceum’s first-ever NCAA crown, the Pirates went to the PBA D-League to gain experience. However, in their first foray in the second league, the Lyceans realized that it was a whole different animal.

Going up against the veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burgers-backed squad had a slow start as they adjusted to the tougher calls of the league. The Jawbreakers were down by as much as 17 points early in the third frame, 37-54.

“Yung physicality hindi naman ako masyadong nagulat pero sa mental toughness, yung pagod ka na, tapos may babanggga pa sa ‘yo, ang iniisip ko kailangan mas maging tough,” admitted reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player CJ Perez.

“Nangangapa kami nung una lahat kasi first game namin ito, pati dito sa court na ‘to first game din namin,” added Jaycee Marcelino.

It however served as a wake-up call. Adjusting on the fly, Perez and Marcelino rallied the Jawbreakers back — even having multiple attempts to take over the contest late in the game. However, they fell short, 92-94.

“Binalik lang namin yung laro namin dati, pass the ball, hindi yung puro dribble, i-run lang namin yung plays,” shared Marcelino as he and Perez combined to score 16 points in the final frame.

The 21-year-old Marcelino finished with a game-high 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block while the 24-year-old Perez added 19 points, five assists, two steals, and a block.

With their first game in the bag, the two and the rest of the Jawbreakers now have this experience under their belts. And they plan to put in the work to prove that they belong.

“Sa NC naman kasi puro ka-level namin kalaro namin, dito puro beterano ang naglalaro,” said Marcelino. “Hindi talaga namin masabi na yung ginawa namin sa NC magagawa din namin dito.

“Mageextra work pa kami para masustain namin kung ano kami sa Lyceum.”

“It’s a good experience. Ibang iba pala talaga yung laro ng D-League sa NCAA,” expressed Perez, who is a consensus top three pick for the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

“Sobrang grateful kami na nakalaro na rin kami sa D-League.”

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Basketball

Renzo Subido to bring Marinerong Pilipino experience to UST

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When Renzo Subido decided to skip out the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers’ UAAP Season 80 campaign, he had only one thing in mind: to improve on his craft. And he was able to do so under coach Koy Banal in the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers.

After the AMA Online Education Titans had a quick end to their campaign during the 2017 Foundation Cup, the 5-foot-9 floor general was immediately picked up by Marinerong Pilipino for the playoffs. Liking his style of play, he was again tapped for the 2018 Aspirants Cup.

And he showed a lot of growth from then, leading the Skippers to a 94-92 victory over fellow contenders Zark’s Jawbreakers. The 21-year-old tallied 20 points, three rebounds, and five assists while knocking down the crucial free throws to seal off the Lyceum-backed team.

“It was a good win for us. We’re happy that we won the game because it’s a good way to start the conference,” beamed Subido. “I’ve played against Lyceum in the past so I had familiarity with how they play.

“It was a good experience for us.”

Expectations are high for Marinerong Pilipino this conference as they are pegged as their blend of veterans and young guns are seen too overwhelming for the rest of the field. Still, Subido knows that it will be a tough climb as the other teams, especially the collegiate-based squads, have familiarity on their side.

“We’re taking it one game at a time but the goal is to win the championship,” he said. “But we know that it’s not going to be easy since we are going up against the top collegiate teams.

“So we’re just going to go all out every game.”

Besides winning the championship, Subido is on a personal mission. Being one of the seniors for the Growling Tigers next season, he hopes to learn to become a better leader for next season.

“I want to become a better leader. I know that everything I can learn this conference, I can bring to UST,” Subido expressed.

“For all I can see, coach Aldin [Ayo] is a guard-oriented coach. So I’m using all the experience I get here in Marinero, I’ll bring it to UST.”

For sure, Subido wants to make up for lost time.

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