Yeo likens ‘Manila Clasico’ to Ateneo vs La Salle
MANILA, Philippines – It was a major throwback for Joseph Yeo Sunday night, November 9.
The 31-year old guard who played his first ever ‘Manila Clasico’ – the longtime rivalry between PBA teams Barangay Ginebra and Purefoods – admitted how overwhelming the experience was.
“Parang Ateneo-La Salle (It’s just like Ateneo versus La salle),” said Yeo, who is very much familiar with storied, fierce rivalries having been part of another well-known rivalry in Philippine sports involving his alma mater De La Salle University and the Ateneo de Manila University.
The 18,576-strong crowd, the loud and electric atmosphere, and the fan fare that came with Sunday’s game did not faze the former Green Archer as Yeo fed off the energy inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum to torch Purefoods with 17 points and 5-of-8 triples.
Twelve of his total points spear-headed a 28-17 third quarter assault that broke the game wide open for an 89-66 Ginebra rout of Purefoods.
It was as if Yeo was in his ideal playing environment – one which he was long used to in his UAAP years. It even seemed like he missed it.
“Hindi ko alam na ganito pala ka-big deal yung Manila Clasico. Feeling ko bumalik ako sa college.” (I didn’t realize Manila Clasico was this big of a deal. It felt like I was taken back to college.)
Glamour of the game aside, more crucial for Yeo and Ginebra was attaining small victories in their execution with every play.
Yeo said the team took important steps forward to mastering the triangle offense as well as in sticking with a system and practicing organized chaos.
"Dito sa Ginebra, nagkaroon ng structure sa triangle. Hindi naman pwedeng laging takbuhan,” he said. “Si coach gusto niya slow break, pero kung meron, okay lang (mag fastbreak). Ayaw niya lang yung nagpipilit. Sana maging okay yung takbo ng offense namin."
(Ginebra found structure with the triangle. We can’t just run all the time. Coach likes the slow break but if there’s a chance, it’s okay to go on a fastbreak. He just doesn’t want us to force it. Hopefully our offense runs better.)
He added that they were able to run the triangle more smoothly against the very team that used it to win a Grand Slam.
“Ngayon lang namin na-maximize yung strength namin kasi ang dami namin pick-and-roll players,” Yeo explained, citing vital pick-and-roll cogs such as Tenorio, Caguioa, Helterbrand and the Gin Kings’ big men. “Nabigyan kami ni coach Jeff (Cariaso) ng free will."
(We were able to maximize our strength because we have so many pick-and-roll players. Coach Jeff gave us free will.)
But the win by no means makes Ginebra’s offense perfect. Head coach Jeff Cariaso was the first to say “we’re still far from where we want, we can’t be too happy.”
And Yeo was the next to say that this win and rising to a 4-1 record is but preparation for the much tougher road ahead.
"Parang bini-build lang namin yung chemistry namin in preparation para sa playoffs. Ang dami pang pwedeng mangyari. Tina-target lang namin yung top two, so every game talaga, parang hindi kami pwedeng matalo para makuha namin.”
(We are building our chemistry in preparation for the playoffs. A lot can happen. We are targeting the top two, so every game we can’t lose so we get there.)
And on a personal note, the deadly shooter who lit up for Air21 (now NLEX) before getting traded to Ginebra says he’s been studying fellow scorers PJ Simon and James Yap.
He admits that Ginebra is aiming to follow the championship formula set by Purefoods, which has won the last 4 conferences as San Mig Coffee.
“Ako, tinitignan ko sila PJ, sila James kung saan nila nakukuha yung puntos nila,” he said. “Sila yung perfect example na gusto namin gayahin. Maganda na yung tinatakbo nila.” (I’ve been looking at PJ and James and how they get their points. They’re the perfect example that we want to emulate. They have a good system in place.) – Rappler.com