Why are you not utilizing him to command the ENTIRE defense? (Photo Credit: Carlo Pamintuan, ph.sports.yahoo.com)

Why are you not utilizing him to command the ENTIRE defense? // Carlo Pamintuan, Yahoo! Sports PH

Ginebra has been frustrating not just their fans for the past six years or so, but the general basketball fan as well.

The once-storied franchise has been the butt of all jokes as much as Scott Brooks’ end-game coaching situations are. Or if we go local, coach Ryan Gregorio’s botched last-ditch attempts at Meralco before he got axed.

This is not saying that whatever we present here at HB will be the be-all and end-all solutions that will ensure a winning run. But perhaps, it might give this team some ideas to find its identity that relies on that overused “puso” battle cry. If nothing else, it’s a call to change. Let’s face it. Your game won’t improve a lot even if you show “puso” coupled with bad basketball. That just doesn’t work. So here are our ideas:

Let the Rookies Play

Yes, he can do this. (photo credit: Paul Ryan Tan, AKTV)

Yeah, he can do this. // Paul Ryan Tan, AKTV

What’s the point of drafting a player high in the draft only to nail him to the bench? James Forrester was a freaking monster when he was firing on all cylinders during his first year in the local NCAA. He was technically a machine that gives you a healthy 17-6-4 a night while shooting around 45-48 percent (he was not Romeo-happy) from the floor and throwing in a three or two for good measure. He was robbed of his explosiveness his second year since hey, injuries suck. But we’ll not dwell on that.

See, Forrester has all the physical tools to be the heir apparent to Mark Caguioa’s scoring exploits. While Caguioa does his thing in a noisy fashion, Forrester is a smooth operator, a surgeon if I may. His skillset allows him able to man both guard spots. Defensively, he wasn’t a slouch, but he wasn’t great either (screw the NCAA for not having advanced stats to point this out). But again, his value lies on the offensive end even if he has a tendency to hold it for long periods (again, no usage rate in the NCAA) that bogs down the offense. Is he a Terrence Romeo? Nope.

On the big man side of things, I don’t know why you insist on gluing Rodney Brondial to the bench. The guy is like a young Marc Pingris but with the offensive polish and skills as evidenced by his years in Adamson (insert last statistical season as an Adamson Falcon). He has a great nose for the ball (insert offensive/defensive splits, you know na) and hits 15-footers with considerable ease (insert advanced stats again if available). His assists numbers may belie his willingness to hit an open teammate (insert assists stats and ast:to) but when he can, he does.

Free Ababou

You have a former UAAP MVP who is, once again, nailed to the monobloc. We’d understand if Ababou suffered another injury to completely derail him once again. But man, when Ababou is on, we mean it. He’s your prototypical three that can space the floor, hit the backboards, put the ball down, hit the open man, and move without the damn rock.

Moving without the ball is certainly the problem of every Ginebra player as they tend to just stand around and watch the straight post up unfurl in light of a horrid offensive set.

This aspect is where Ababou shines as his basketball IQ makes him see cutting lanes, open corners and reading his defense after a pick situation, without ever stalling the offense.

For all intents and purposes, we aren’t gonna include Mike Dunnigan in the general scheme of things since this is to help the woes of an All-Filipino line up. And no, let’s not start with Japeth. That’s another problematic matter.

New line up?

Haaaaaaaaay Japeth. (photo credit: pinoyexchange.com)

Haaaaaaaaay Japeth. // PinoyExchange.com

Here’s my hypothetical line up that can probably work around Greg Slaughter’s ability to pull the entire defense to him. Chemistry issues barring, I think if given the proper trial run, this would eventually work. Rodney said he would bleed for Ginebra so hey, that’s one question mark down. Forrester? He’s out to stop all those “if we only picked Romeo” fans.

Hypothetically, rotations should look like this:

Emman Monfort LA Tenorio
Mark Caguioa James Forrester (better season the young guy already, Spark’s not getting younger.)
Dylan Ababou Mac Baracael (sige na nga kay Baracael, Ellis is kicked out for being a black hole.)
Rodney Brondial Japeth Aguilar (Should be Jay-R Reyes here, haaaaay Japeth. This is the crucial position.)
Greg Slaughter Japeth Aguilar

How should they play?


Here’s the secret: Ginebra has to play fast. Like the way it did a few years back but with more control. Think…(and here’s my audacity) Golden State Warriors under Steve Kerr. The Dubs play with a fast pace but they have it under control, no wild wire-to-wire runs that have net zero results.

And here we delve into a rather Horns-y set that provide the magic, assuming Rodney is really up to it (and I hope he is for the love of basketball goodness):

The floor is spread out with no one in sight of the paint. It looks like an odd 1-3-1 offensive set and pinning the ball handler in a corner. In all cases, that doesn’t look good. The options of the PG are limited.

But here’s the thing, a side 5-1 Pick N Roll that devolves into a whole lot of options with the PF (Brondial) as the lynchpin to everything.

The C will continue his roll and plant a cross screen for the SG to run off the baseline to the opposite corner. The ball handler feeds it to the PF that is at the top of the key while going over for a 3-1 reverse screen to keep the defense on its toes. Now, let’s see what the PF can do.

Behold his three options as the offense suddenly evolves midway…

Option A

2 Slaughter’s man eventually has to choose: blitz the SG to negate an open corner three and give up post position or stick to the big man while still giving up post position for an easy lay-up or dunk. This makes it a pretty straight-forward Seal n’ Deal (yes, we’re trademarking it right here, right now). Or…

Option B

2.1 Brondial can make a straight line drive here considering he can finish with both hands. Of course, that means Slaughter will continue to park his rump on the opposite side of the hoop and give his 4 some driving space. Again, if the drive is countered and clogged, the big guy tagging Slaughter will eventually have to help out here ending with again: a Slaughter basket. Seeing the entire picture now?

Here’s one last, and probably, the most difficult to pull off since it will completely change the offense and must rely on constant motion from EVERYONE.

Option C

2.2 Option C isn’t exactly the last resort. This is the look we are gunning for. In all, we’ve been misdirecting the entire defense thanks to Greg Slaughter.

The PF will eventually throw the ball to the PG wherein the C would be in direct line for a post entry pass. But here’s the thing. We’re not looking at a straight post-up. We’re going to get the chief scorer (Caguioa) loose by setting a double stagger screen with Ababou and Brondial (or Japeth). Which makes it look like this…

3 This looks a bit fancy and complicated but in reality, it’s a simple set ran by GSW to free Klay or Curry off.

All of the above sets were just throwing misdirection after misdirection to get Caguioa off so he can get the ball off the deck and beat his man. Also, the point guard’s man will eventually have to help off him either on the threat of a straight post-up or Caguioa cannonballing from the double stagger. And this is how it will look like with a little wrinkle added…

4 Caguioa will eventually attack the middle with impunity and he has lots of options. Because hey, options are good, which every team sort of lacks. Here are the scenarios:

  • His man is beat off the dribble and only has to contend with the helping big
  • His man and the big will eventually collapse on him, letting a free lane for Slaughter.
  • Monfort’s man would also be intent on clogging up Caguioa’s driving lane that he forgets Monfort who made a living hitting open threes from Greg’s side.
  • The 4-3 pindown action from the forwards eventually keeps their D busy enough to miss Caguioa or their movements letting them have an open three or 18-foot baseline J
  • Slaughter can drift to the 18-foot range and pull his man there with his ability to knock down jumpers.

And so, with that, Ginebra can have the full use of their firepower plus their complementary pieces. A simple horns set with a little imagination can help Ato Agustin from his beleaguered bench job.

Or he can hire me for his staff.

Disclaimer: The author is not a Ginebra fan. He just dislikes Basketball Criminality as he puts it.