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Barangay Ginebra: Identity Crisis

pba121 Barangay Ginebra: Identity Crisis  - philippine sports newsWhen you have a seven-foot big man playing in your squad, two players standing 6-foot-9 and two other frontliners standing no less than 6-foot-5, it’s only ideal to anchor your offensive game on your big men.

Greg Slaughter is the team’s premier center, and undisputed man at the position for the Gin Kings. Import Michael Dunigan could easily slide playing at the No. 4 spot and Japeth Aguilar can play both forward spots. Off the bench, you still have Jay-R Reyes and veteran Billy Mamaril to do the dirty work down low.

You have a very solid, tall frontline and the only thing the coach should do is maximize it.

But when you have a coach that wants to establish a fast-paced game, these solid frontliners could become the starters for Ginebra’s fastbreak game. These bigs will just control the boards and let the guards do their thing to finish it.

Yes, they have the talented guards and wingmen to finish the fast breaks – Joseph Yeo, Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, LA Tenorio, and Chris Ellis to name a few.

So how do the Gin Kings want to be identified?

They want to be known as an inside-out team as their offense would go to the big men first – particularly Slaughter and Dunigan – similar to the system being run by their sister team San Miguel Beer. Looking at the frontline, it seems the Gin Kings have an even better chance if they could get the ball down low. They have not just one, but two options inside.

If you were to ask import Dunigan, he believes the Gin Kings should utilize their size advantage to the hilt.pba151 Barangay Ginebra: Identity Crisis  - philippine sports news

We need to utilize our bigs. We need to find a way to make them more effective and put them in a good position to score. We’re taller than most teams. In my opinion we should go inside-out,” said Dunigan.

“Fastbreak is a nice thing, of course, but we have bigs.”

A Slaughter-Dunigan combination looks formidable…

pba13 Barangay Ginebra: Identity Crisis  - philippine sports news

But what about Japeth Aguilar?

For all his athleticism and size, Aguilar should start doing weak side rebounding and make full use of his gifted leaping ability. Think about a Harvey Carey, a Kelly Williams or a Marc Pingris who are excellent weak side rebounders. Aguilar should start doing that.

In the Gin Kings’ first game last Tuesday, Aguilar was at a loss. He was a big disappointment as he couldn’t get a single rebound despite his size and athleticism.

Talking about the things he learned at Western Kentucky, Japeth should bring all of that to the PBA.

Dunigan’s observation, however, is a stark contrast from the philosophy envisioned by comebacking coach Ato Agustin. He wants the Gin Kings to run, but he wants his team to do it the more efficient way. Less talk. More action.

“Yun nga ang gusto ko, yung takbuhan. Yun rin naman ang gusto nila. Pero sabi ko nga after the game, gusto natin running team pero hindi lang basta sinasabi yun, kailangan ng action,” he said.

But in the team’s first match, their guards couldn’t get their game going, scoring only three points from the fastbreaks, while Yeo even had a scoreless game. They got three points from Tenorio and six and three points respectively from the (not so) Fast and Furious tandem of Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand.

Perhaps, before developing their running game, the Gin Kings will have to borrow aggressiveness from the Meralco Bolts, who outplayed them in almost all departments, including rebounding where the smaller team outrebounded the tallest frontline in the league, 55-48.

The Gin Kings should also realize that winning games varies not during tune up games and practices, but in real tournaments- something Agustin wants to instill in his players.

“Kulang pa sa aggressiveness yung game namin. Actually, I was surprised talaga na ganito yung performance namin itong game namin kasi sa practice talagang everyday nakikita ko yung aggressive andun. Even our tune up games. Sabi ko nga this is the real game. Not yung mga practices, not yung mga tune up games. But kung ano yung ginagawa natin sa practices natin, which are all good, dito natin gawin,” he added.

So if you were the Gin Kings, what would you do? Would you play half court offense and put your big men in better position to score with a high-percentage shot or would you like to run and anchor your game on the transition?

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