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One-on-One: ‘The Rocket’ JC Intal continues to hit the heights

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By: Levi Verora Jr. and Frankie Galledo

Over the course of the 40th season of the PBA, we have documented the vast improvements of “The Rocket” JC Intal’s game. Gil Lopez even broke down Intal’s game in March 24’s Stats Don’t Lie: The Rocket Refueled.

In this edition of One on One, our PBA beat writer Levi Verora talks with Gil Lopez’s friend, Frankie Galledo, about the resurgence of JC Intal and how special of a player he is.

Levi Verora Jr.
Those seeing this resurgence by JC Intal… They should cherish the moment, because he might just be the last good traditional small forward in this era of positionless basketball.

Frankie Galledo
He’s the last prototypical SF you mean Levs. Slashing game (shot chart registers a green in the paint area), rebounding (8.3 in the conf and 4.3 for the season).
He has suddenly recaptured his mojo, quite surprising me.
Like we’re dealing with the 17-7-5 Intal here. Not that shell of a rocket in B-Meg where they didn’t even bother to make use of his slashing game.

Levi Verora Jr.
And I think he still manages to thrive in this era because of the many little things he does. Not a lot of this, a lot of that, but just a balanced combination of both — three-point game, inside game, rebounding, you name it.
I mean all, not both.

Frankie Galledo
Exactly. Even if he’s not that great of a shooter (29% so far), he has made it a point to keep attacking the rim for his team, which is where Intal is really good at.
It creates opportunities for the likes of Ababou, Lanete and Lastimosa (maybe even Forrester!) when the set just breaks down into an Intal dive down the middle.

Levi Verora Jr.
And it is amazing how he does stuff like this. It seems JC Intal is a basketball position. He’s no shooting guard. He’s no stretch four. No matter how you look at it, it’s just JC Intal. Prototypical SF.

Frankie Galledo
True that, true that. He’s the last remaining old-school SF who just plugs the lane, fills in the spaces, and lets everyone play off of him.
Just look at the guy’s statline. 18-8-3. Throw in a combined 2.0 steals-blocks and that insane FG shooting of 45.8% For the PBA standard, that’s pretty high already.
By the way, here’s the most important number of all so far in the Gov’s Cup resurgence of Intal: Barako goes way up terms of ORtg and the DRtg is an an absurd 90.8 with him on the floor.

Levi Verora Jr.
Insane by PBA standards you bet. And I wanted to make sure, so I took a handful of comparisons just to prove he is the last of his kind. Calvin Abueva plays 4, is very aggressive, and does not really possess reliable shooting from downtown. Marcio Lassiter is a wing guy. He is a volume shooter from deep. Sometimes he is a scoring guard. Ditto with Ababou, who is a 2-3. Jeff Chan and Larry Fonacier are more of three-point threats and are definitely better shooters than Intal. Gabe Norwood and Matt Rosser are your lengthy wing guys who are perimeter stoppers.

Frankie Galledo
You know what? JC Intal combined all of those people in one body.

Levi Verora Jr.
While Intal… where does he stack up among these players? He is just Intal. And it is amazing how he has made name for himself.

Frankie Galledo
He’s just…absurd. I mean, the guy impacts both the offense AND defense of Barako.

Levi Verora Jr.
Which also takes us back to the mid-2000s Ateneo roster with him. You can argue that all those teams are HIS teams.
Those are the last prototypical playmaker-shooting guard-small forward-POWER forward-big Ateneo units before Black took over.

Frankie Galledo
His last year with Ateneo was definitely his. Coz he did play with Larry and LA two years prior. but yes, the success of the Eagles then relied heavily on Intal’s play on both ends of the floor.

Levi Verora Jr.
Speaking of the last two years, say the unit of Macky Escalona-Chris Tiu-JC Intal-Doug Kramer-Japeth Aguilar/Rabeh Al-Hussaini.

Frankie Galledo

Photo from GetBlued

They were one insane Rabeh away from the ‘ship. Coz UST really had no chance of stopping the Rocket. Were you able to watch how he just gets into the paint whenever he wanted during that year? It’s happening again. in the PBA.

Levi Verora Jr.
That isn’t four-out. That isn’t “suitable” for today’s game. Try matching them up with let’s say the NU champion team with a point center in Alfred Aroga plus a couple of versatile forwards like Glenn Khobuntin and Troy Rosario. Or against FEU with a combo guard like Mike Tolomia and another floor-spacing big in Mac Belo.

Frankie Galledo
I think that’s throwing shade at Memphis for having a Gasol-ZBo frontcourt haha!
You forgot the Eagles had Zion Latterre. And Doug ain’t no lawnmower in the paint.

Levi Verora Jr.
But during that time, it was an ultra-competitive team. They lost to UST in the finale Intal was a beast during that season, because during that time he was a unique prototypical 3. Heck I even patterned my game after him in high school.

Frankie Galledo
I mean, dude, Ken Bono was the heaviest player I’ve seen play in the UAAP and Biceps just went at him.
Slash, drive, finish, dish, rebound…

Levi Verora Jr.
Well speaking of the Grizzlies, again there are exceptions like Kenneth Faried, or Mark Pingris, or HARVEY CAREY. The hustle guys. But unless you are multi-faceted these days, it’s hard to succeed.
Which makes Intal a special player.

Frankie Galledo
Zion Laterre was a hustle guy. But yeah, if Intal did not play well, Ateneo wasn’t running the same. Same goes for Barako in case he does suffer a regression.

Levi Verora Jr.
So obviously this has something to do with Bianca Gonzalez right? Throwing away all the advanced stats?

Frankie Galledo
It also makes sense that Barako has players that truly compliment Intal’s style like Lanete, Ababou and Lastimosa.
Says who Levi? I don’t do that. Haha!

Levi Verora Jr.
Hahaha! Well, it’s just amazing to see him succeeding until now. What a sight. Again, make sure to take advantage of the moment.
There might not be another JC Intal in the league.
Among the youngsters out there do you still see a traditional SF?

Frankie Galledo
Matt Ganuelas-Rosser maybe.
But that is until he develops some kind of jumpshot.

Levi Verora Jr.
But that is unless he develops that range.

Frankie Galledo
Or any kind of offense besides putbacks for that matter.

Levi Verora Jr.
Yeah, because when Intal entered the league he already possessed a mid-range game.

Frankie Galledo
I mean, right now, he can’t put the ball on the floor with confidence, he just knows when to cut, where to cut and jump higher than his man.

Levi Verora Jr.
Which is staple for 3 guys of the previous generation. We old Frankie. We old.

Frankie Galledo
I know! Haha. Well, Intal had that nifty go-to dribble pull-up (which sadly cost us the ‘ship) by the elbow area that he turned into an art in the regular season of the UAAP.

Levi Verora Jr.f
It was his best weapon outside of the slashing in my opinion and it carried over in the earlier part of his PBA career.
At least he was still able to extend his range until beyond the arc.

Frankie Galledo
Right now, I see that again in Barako and Koy Banal is utilizing Intal to get touches by his favorite elbow areas.

Levi Verora Jr.
And create opportunities from there should the defense react.
Final thoughts?

Frankie Galledo
Exactly. I don’t know with you man, but Koy Banal makes sure he gets the first move everytime and turns the defense of the opponent to a reactionary one rather than a proactive one.

Levi Verora Jr.
Savor the moment. Intal is Intal.

Frankie Galledo
I mean that in the sense that it seems the other team is content to let Intal get his touch then BAM, they’re dead.

Levi Verora Jr.
Ahhhh–mazing.

Frankie Galledo
Maybe against a better coach, Banal would actually have to improvise his offense to still get Intal his touches at his sweet spots (but that’s for another time).

Levi Verora Jr.
How do you see Intal in the last… 2-5 years of his career?
Given this era.

Frankie Galledo
He’ll eventually have to revert back to his defensive stopper self.
Well, scrap that.

Levi Verora Jr.
And become the best 35+ year old two-way player!

Frankie Galledo
Hahaha in our dreams Levi.
Maybe just develop into a slashing Paul Pierce or uhm, smaller Anthony Mason.
Just be the vet that would take a contender over the top.

Levi Verora Jr.
Or just be JC Intal, as usual. it’s just amazing to see him play at a high level in whatever competition.

Frankie Galledo
Yes, just be the Rocket for a game or two once his gas is near empty. I’m cool with that.

Levi Verora Jr.
Ayos!!!

Frankie Galledonblack
Maybe if he gets coached by CNB one last time…

Levi Verora Jr.
Nice. Who do you give up if you’re Meralco? Either one of Cliff Hodge or Sean Anthony? Give Barako a defender and let Ababou be their go to guy.
Anyway, I just want to see him succeed before he calls it a career.

Frankie Galledo
Uhm… Gary David? I mean, washed up gary David hahaha
I mean, do we really believe Barako would go for an equal trade? :))
If Frankie Lim can get his guys from SBC, why the heck can Norman Black not get his guys from Ateneo?

Levi Verora Jr.
Haha. But it’s not an SMC team so who knows. I’m just kidding, they might fine me.
Yes. Hopefully, that would be an awesome storybook finale

Frankie Galledo
Indeed. And it might get Macky Escalona out of retirement hahaha!

Levi Verora Jr.
Hahaha! Give Nico Salva the playing time he *deserves*

Frankie Galledo
Let me get my vomit bag for mentioning a wannabe…

Levi Verora Jr.
That’s it. There’s only one JC Intal.

Frankie Galledo
Never again.

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