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In the era of stretch fours, Carey still finding ways to thrive



In a generation where basketball positions have evolved and players have to be multi-dimensional to gain an extra edge over the “traditional” ones, only a handful of players still have the ability to thrive and overturn the unwritten rule of how basketball positions are ought to be played nowadays: the hustle players. writer John Schuhmann once wrote about Kenneth Faried during the 2014 FIBA World Cup [READ: Faried not your typical FIBA big]

Faried was part of the United States’ gold-medal winning roster, but perhaps did not “fit the mold” prior to the tournament according to Schuhmann, especially in this era of stretch forwards who can shoot, drive, and be scorers while still being powerful underneath.

“To play the four or the five for the U.S. National Team in FIBA competition, you typically need to be able to shoot or be really tall. Faried can’t shoot and is just 6-foot-8.

Even in the NBA, where perimeter shooting is getting more important every year, Faried has his limitations as a power forward. In international play, where zone defenses are allowed and the three-point line is shorter, a non-shooter can be thought of as a liability. Over the last several years, the U.S. has filled the power forward position with its big (and talented) three men, guys like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.”

Faried’s inability to shoot and the fact that he is slightly undersized might have been the criteria for pundits to say he doesn’t deserve to be part of the final 12, but Schuhmann added his “energy and bounce was just impossible to ignore.”

Schumann added:

“But it didn’t take long for him to make the staff rethink what they looked for in a power forward and what kind of team they were building. In the first few days of practice, Faried made a compelling case for inclusion on the 12-man roster that would compete at the World Cup. And that was before Paul George broke his leg and Durant decided he wasn’t going to play.

No, he didn’t come to camp having grown a few inches or with an improved jumper. Faried’s energy and bounce was just impossible to ignore. He broke the mold for an international power forward by just doing what he does: running, jumping, grabbing lots of rebounds, and finishing around the rim.

That could have earned Faried a role as a “specialist,” someone who can make an impact in short bursts. But now, with George and Durant out of the picture, Faried is a candidate to start for the U.S. In fact, he started the first exhibition game against Brazil on Saturday.”

We all know why Marc Pingris (and the hashtag #PUSO that automatically rides along with him wherever he goes) has always been part of Chot Reyes’ roster for Gilas Pilipinas.

Exerting a lot of energy is the only thing he needs to do, but since he does it with so much commitment, he breaks the barriers.

In Game 5 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals between Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser committed two fouls in about four minutes into the match. This prompted Jong Uichico to insert Harvey Carey into the mix.

Prior to his stint, Carey was playing only 12 minutes in the entire conference and was used sparingly in the playoffs, buried deep in the rotation that includes stretch fours like Ranidel de Ocampo, Kelly Williams, and Jay Washington and athletic perimeter defenders like Ganuelas-Rosser and Aaron Aban.

Like Faried and Pingris, Carey cannot shoot, save for a knack to hit 15-foot baseline jumpers. But his range doesn’t extend up to the three-point arc. He is a severely undersized forward a bit slow when put on opposing teams’ wing men.

But Uichico chose to stick with Carey throughout the match and the 12-year PBA pro played for 31 minutes, scoring a personal conference-high seven points on top of grabbing seven rebounds.

Carey inflicted energy all over the court and tried to change the complexion of the match with the way he can affect opposing teams on both ends.

“I come in there and try to bring the energy and do the intangible things like rebounding and playing defense. We have a lot of talent in the team and I just try to clean up the rest of the stuff. It’s all about heart and effort. We stepped on the court and did our game plan. Hopefully we can do it again one more time,” Carey shared.

On defense, Carey took the ball-handler, and since Rain or Shine had been turning to a lot of pick and roll plays throughout the series, a simple switch would put Carey on the Elasto Painters big, denying that guy an easy path to the basket while another Tropang Texters big will funnel the ball-handler to himself.

On offense, Carey roamed constantly along the baseline, making himself available for drop passes and for offensive rebounding opportunities.

“They’ve been beating us on the offensive glass all series long and 50-50 balls, we just tried to limit them on that because they’ve been killing us on that, and hopefully we can do it one more time for 48 minutes,” he added.

“We’ll just work hard and do what it takes to win. It will boil down to defense and the little things. It’s just maintaining staying strong together.”

Like Faried, Pingris and all the hustle guys we see in the sport, Carey is in that unique category for forwards, but has been able to play well despite his limitations just by doing the little things with lots of energy and aggressiveness.

He is still finding ways to thrive.


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De Ocampo, Talk ‘N Text torch Rain or Shine, now one win away from championship

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