MANILA, Philippines - The 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup is one of the most anticipated tournaments in the Philippine Basketball calendar for the simple fact that it doesn’t impose any height limit on the imports each team may sign-up.
It’s the only pro tournament on Philippine soil where hoop nuts will get to see their favorite PBA players rough it up with some really talented big men from across the globe.
In Part 2 of this series, Rappler takes a look at teams that have made significant pre-conference strides at revamping their rosters for real -- or imagined -- success.
(Read: Part 1, a preview on Air21 Express and Alaska Aces)
Barako Bull Energy: Retooled, reloaded
2012 Commissioner’s Cup record
4-5 (beat Alaska in quarterfinals then lost to Talk N’ Text in the semis, 3-2)
Evan Brock is a 6’9” American who was a former player of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. He last played professionally in Asia for the Indonesia Warriors of the ABL in the 2011-2012 season.
He played 10 games, averaging a 20-10 double-double line while shooting 56.3% from the field. He eventually helped the Warriors bag their first ABL crown. Before joining Barako, Brock also had a stint in the Dominican Republic league.
Several players showed flashes of brilliance in the previous conference, and, needless to say, it would be extremely helpful if they could continue putting up solid numbers this time around.
We’re talking about almost-forgotten guys like Enrico Villanueva and Danny Seigle, both of whom averaged more than 12 points per game for Barako. If they’re healthy, they can be able supporters to what should be a nightly double-double for Brock.
Josh Urbiztondo also emerged as an effective starting PG in the Philippine Cup, and it should be exciting to see how he’ll lead Rajko Toroman’s patented double-high offense.
Despite the re-emergence of Villanueva and Seigle, the blossoming of Urbiztondo, and the promise of Brock, we doubt if Barako has enough firepower to reap many W's in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Brock’s production will also take away minutes from the trio of Sean Anthony, Doug Kramer, and Mick Pennisi, and, even if Jonas Villanueva is now in the fold, we doubt if there are enough perimeter threats to consistently spread the floor.
What’s very intriguing are the insertions of JC Intal and Allein Maliksi in the roster. If both guys can live up to their rep of being versatile wingmen with great size, then maybe, just maybe, the Energy can surpass expectations. Of course, Brock is expected to come out and fill the stat-sheet every single game. If both of those things do happen, then the rest of the field should be wary, otherwise, it’ll be a disappointing sojourn for Barako.
Brgy Ginebra Gin Kings: Will new coach change fortunes?
2012 Commissioner’s Cup record:
6-3 (earned outright semis berth, but lost to B-Meg, 3-1)
Herbert Hill is a 6’10” American who was a former University of Providence Friar. He last played professionally in the KBL for the ET Land Elephants. He played in 36 matches, averaging about 22 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks while shooting 60% from the field.
He replaced Lebanese-American Jackson Vroman as ET Land’s import midway through the season. Before moving to Korea, Hill had tours of duty with the Tulsa 66ers and the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA D-League. He was picked by the Utah Jazz in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft.
The entry of Mac Baracael should give returning coach Alfrancis Chua another loaded gun, but the dilemma is how he’ll spread the playing time between Baracael and Ginebra’s other simlilarly-sized swingmen – Dylan Ababou, Elmer Espiritu, Keith Jensen, and Chris Ellis. Still, it should be categorized as a “fortunate problem.”
One good thing going for the Kings, of course, is Mark Caguioa continuing his fine offensive performance. “The Spark” normed 18.4ppg in the Philippine Cup, and he should still register similar production given that Herbert Hill’s interior presence should help open things up from the outside. Ditto for LA Tenorio and Chris Ellis, both of whom connected on a combined 33% of their triples last conference.
Apart from the aforementioned playing time problem at the 3 spot, coach Chua will have to think of a way to make their frontcourt more effective. Hill’s presence will be a positive – that goes without saying – but guys like Billy Mamaril, Yousef Taha, and Rico Maierhofer should be more consistent with their production.
They won’t rebound in the double-digits with Hill around, but they should still serve as good back-ups by shooting the ball well from in close and making their free throws. Of those three, only Maierhofer shoots better than 50% from the floor, and nobody connects on better than 53% from the line. It’s clear that if Hill gets into foul trouble, then things will get ugly up front.
This is a team that also struggled with its offense last conference, with only four guys averaging 8 points or more. Coach Chua will have to find novel ways of getting his scorers great opportunities.
Of all the San Miguel-owned teams, we believe the Gin Kings will have it out the toughest in the Commissioner’s Cup. The names of Tenorio and Caguioa evoke star power, but it’s firepower that will count more on the hardwood.
If Chris Ellis can further fine-tune his game and Hill can dominate down low, then Ginebra has a good chance to advance to the quarters, but, given its aging core and redundancy of players, it’s likely that Ginebra will finish outside looking in. - Rappler.com