2014-2015 PBA PHL Cup preview: Barangay Ginebra San Miguel

GI-NEB-RA. The most famous three syllable basketball chant in the entire country. Will Ginebra fans be treated to a season that they can finally call their own? What has the offseason given to one of the most popular teams in the PBA? Should you root for Ginebra once again?

WHO’S IN, WHO’S OUT

Subtractions: Jens Knuttel and Bryan Faundo

Additions: Joseph Yeo and Rodney Brondial (Rookie)

Reserved List: Emman Monfort

The most interesting addition of the Ginebra roster is Joseph Yeo. We will tackle his impact on the team later below, but make no mistake that he’s the type of player that can be an important tool in Ginebra’s title run this year.

The loss of Knuttel or Faundo doesn’t really hurt Ginebra. By now, every Ginebra player knows his role and the two didn’t get a lot of playing time anyway.

QUESTIONS

Will this be the breakout season of the Twin Towers?

These are the numbers of the two big men of Ginebra during the 2013-2014 season:

Greg Slaughter: 14.5ppg, 10rpg, 1.4bpg

Japeth Aguilar: 13.6ppg, 7.6rpg, 2.07bpg

Combined, that’s 27-plus points, a huge chunk of the team’s rebounding, and probably all the blocks of the Ginebra squad. But this is on a good night; meaning the best of Slaughter and Aguilar produce these numbers.

Just to put things in perspective, here are the averages for MVP Junemar Fajardo: 16.7ppg, 14rpg, 2.08bpg. If Ginebra wants to be successful, these two bigs will need to take up the burden and put the team on their broad shoulders. The dream is simple: MVP-level numbers for both of them. It may be too much, but what if at least one of them goes for almost 17 points, 14 boards, and 2 blocks every single night? Now that’s something.

ginebra vs lg sakers pic 8 by roy afable

What can Joseph Yeo bring to the table?

The addition of Joseph Yeo is tricky. On one hand, they’ve added a versatile slasher and scorer. However, isn’t that already the role of Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterband, and/or ChrisEllis? The Ginebra lineup is stacked with great players so it will be interesting to see how much playing time Yeo gets.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the addition of Yeo, despite Ginebra having a lot of guards already. He is relatively younger and still in his prime. “The Ninja” lit it up last season when he played for Air21, showing everyone that he can be a consistent threat and not just a daredevil slasher. He’s added a three-point game plus he can also set up plays like a point guard. If this is the case, I like the idea of a super big line-up: Yeo at the point, Ellis at the 2, Baracael at small forward, and the Twin Towers completing the frontline. That quintet has speed, shooting, slashing, rebounding, and defense.

Will they finally get the triangle offense?

When Head Coach Jeff Cariaso took over last season, he immediately tried to implement his triangle system. To put it bluntly, it didn’t work out for Ginebra. The players were doing the plays of the triangle offense as though they were reading it from a manual. They looked awfully predictable, like they were in a summer camp teaching kids how to set picks and whatnot.

With a full offseason under their belt, I hope to see a better flowing triangle offense from Ginebra. If one option isn’t available, then go to the next. Keep the ball moving and read the defense. You know what? Just look at how the San Mig Coffee does it.

Do Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterband have anything left in the tank?

Mark Caguioa is 34 and Jayjay Helterband is 37. Think 2014-15 Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

Maybe the trade for Joseph Yeo is an insurance policy. Maybe the Ginebra management was thinking 2-3 years ahead and they want a player like Yeo to take over Caguioa and Helterband. A backcourt of Yeo-Tenorio-Urbiztondo-Ellis is a force to be reckoned with.

However, Caguioa and Helterbrand can still produce quality numbers in bursts. They’re not as quick or as strong as they once were but they’re still one of the best backcourt combinations in the league. 15-to-20 minute stints for the both of them should be favorable for their health and for the team.

ginebra vs lg sakers pic 10 by roy afable

Should you invest your time, money, feelings, passions, and most importantly your heart to Ginebra once again?

Ginebra fans have been on the tailend of a couple of really bad conferences for the last couple of years. The heartaches just keep piling up. I guess what hurts more is that they know they have an extremely talented team. You have two Gilas members, one rookie of the year, a former MVP, a very good coach, plus nearly the entire country rooting for you.

It’s like dating the perfect girl, but someho,w something always gets in the way of you being together. That’s the Ginebra team right now: almost, but not quite. They have all the pieces but somehow the big picture isn’t that pretty.

But still, Ginebra fans will root for them time and time again. Some are more faithful than others. Some will say “Ayoko na talaga” but still check online after a game if Ginebra won. Some will be skeptical and maybe even cynical. However, as all Ginebra fans know, deep down they’re just waiting for the right moment, when their team  finally wakes up.

So like all martyr lovers out there, yes, you should still pour out your heart for Ginebra. The joy of a win and the heartache of a loss are what makes Ginebra fans who they are.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GO?

Quarterfinals.

What?! You told me to invest in this Ginebra team!

I know, I know. But hey, it’s one thing to keep rooting for Ginebra with all your heart and soul and it’s a whole different thing when they’re up against San Mig Coffee, or Rain or Shine, or Talk ‘N Text. This Ginebra team is really good, no doubt, but they have to beat the top teams too. If they can somehow click together as one solid unit, then they have a better chance to go into the semis, and who knows, maybe even the Finals.

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GlobalPort Batang Pier

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