Is Josh Powell the missing piece of Ginebra’s puzzle?

Enzo Flojo

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Is Josh Powell the missing piece of Ginebra’s puzzle?
Barangay Ginebra fans are happy once again after the Gin Kings' victory Wednesday night against the Meralco Bolts. But can replacement import Josh Powell really solve all of their problems?

Midgley, for all the casuals out there, hit one of the biggest shots in the 2003 NCAA tournament, a game-winning three-pointer as the eighth-seeded California Golden Bears defeated the ninth-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack, 76-74, in the first round of the East Regional. 

Midgley and his Bears would advance to the next round, but their success was short-lived as they were soundly beaten by the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners, 74-65. The English cager would go on to finish his collegiate career by 2005, and then flirted with the possibility of playing in Spain before landing with the Everton Tigers of the British Basketball League. 

But why the fuss about Midgley in the first place? 

Well fancy this: after Midgley hit that three against the Wolfpack, one of the guys NOT CELEBRATING on the other end of the floor was current Ginebra import Josh Powell. Midgley won that day, but his career ended in 2009 in football-crazy England. He would barely qualify as a footnote in world basketball.

On the other hand, Powell, though he went undrafted in 2003, went on to play for six NBA teams, play 46 NBA Playoff Games, win two rings with the Lakers (2009 & 2010), played in Asia and Europe, and claim the 2013 season title of the Euroleague with Olympiacos.

Most recently, of course, he’s right here in Manila, playing for the Ginebra Gin Kings. Just last night, April 2, the former NBAer tallied 16 points in his Philippine Basketball Association debut as Ginebra plastered Meralco, 88-78. 

Not impressed? Well, take a look at some of the other things he put up: 15 rebounds, two blocks, two steals, and, perhaps most importantly, a ton of solid screens that enabled Ginebra’s system to shine through. 

No, he certainly doesn’t seem like a take-charge scorer in the mold of Leon Rodgers, but, by all indications, it seems like that’s exactly what the doctor ordered. One may even say, based on the results of his debut, that he’s as much of a good fit for Ginebra as Richard Howell is for Talk ’N Text.

Josh Powell won two NBA rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. Can he help Ginebra win the Commissioner's Cup as well? Photo by John. G. Mabanglo

The bigger question, however, is this: can Powell, his gifts notwithstanding, really help the Gin Kings given how they’re mired in a 3-4 hole with 2 more elims games left and, more distressingly, given how nobody really knows who is calling the shots?

That, in reality, is the Kings’ biggest problem — who is the guy who makes the calls when push comes to shove? Is it the guy labeled the head coach (Ato Agustin), the assistant who diagrams the plays during timeouts (Juno Sauler), or the manager who led this same team to the Commish Cup Finals last year (Alfrancis Chua)? They say more heads are better than one, but, frankly speaking, that doesn’t seem to be the case with Ginebra. 

I get the impression the Kings’ real dilemma is not one of talent or depth, but of identity and character. I mean, what does this team want to be, and how far are they willing to go to be that?

Can Powell add some order to this mess? Well, no import is a cure-all pill, but Powell, having dealt with some of the most colorful characters in the NBA (Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, and Stephen Jackson come to mind), might just be heady enough to play within the system (whose system again?) and hardy enough to stay the course despite all the distractions.

This erstwhile young partnership between Powell and Ginebra is a very curious case, but that’s all the more reason it is worth following.

Surely, we’ll talk about this more than, say, someone like Richard Midgley ever again. –

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