I came across this excellent piece written by Shane Battier for The Players’ Tribune (shared by a good friend of mine, Mr. Rainer Agbayani, that was shared to him by his good friend, Mr. Kristoffer Lara. Thanks bros!). It was all about being a “Glue Guy” — which Shane Battier was excellent at being. It was interesting not only because of the topic (i.e. Glue guys are often overlooked but often important to a team’s culture) but because I consider myself a glue guy as well when we play pick-up games. I even fit into one of Battier’s description:
Too small to be a big and too big to be a small guy seems the preferred range.
Before we proceed, it is important that we define what a “Glue Guy” really is. If we listen to Shane Battier’s words, a self-proclaimed glue guy himself, he is basically someone who makes things work whenever he is on the hard court. He is the guy that does whatever it takes to win and because of that, regardless of what is reflected in the stat sheet, he is well loved by his teammates.
Also, being a “Glue Guy” does not stop inside the court, it continues off the court, when the bright lights are out. As mentioned by Battier, “there are other, less tangible ways a glue guy helps a team win”. It ranges from being the organizer of team events to doing the little things in practice. The “Glue Guy” ensures that everybody is on the same page and is focused on their ultimate goal: to win games.
In the PBA today, who are the players that can be considered as “Glue Guys” for their respective teams? Listed below are three guys that fit the bill.
At the top of the list is the 6’5” forward/center from the GlobalPort Batang Pier, Doug Kramer. You can’t not put Kramer in this list as he is, in my opinion, the ultimate “Glue Guy” in the league today. Now in his 8th team in ten years, he was able to make a big impact in each of his stop.
Right now, he serves as one of the veterans in a talent laden GlobalPort team featuring the likes of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle. But before his stint here with the Batang Pier, he was a part of two special teams in the past.
The first one was when he was with the 2011-2012 Powerade Tigers team. Remember that team? They went nuts in the Philippine Cup playoffs and almost took home the crown against a relatively more stacked TNT team. When talking about that Cinderella run, most people would mention Gary David, Marcio Lassiter, and Jvee Casio. But did you all know that Doug Kramer was their leading rebounder and was third in terms of scoring?
Most recently, before he was traded to GlobalPort, Kramer was a part of the formidable San Miguel Beermen squad. He was a part of last year’s Philippine Cup Champions, playing back-up to MVP June Mar Fajardo. With a talented team like SMB, Kramer did what he does best, contribute in any way that he can to secure the victory for his team.
Kramer is an undersized big man but he makes up for it with positioning and, of course, his upper body strength, as evidenced by his overwhelming biceps.
He’s considered a “Glue Guy” not only because of the intangibles he brings on the court, but also because of the things he does outside of it with his team.
When a player plays with only one team his entire career, you know he must be doing something good, right? The only player left in the original Welcoat team of ’06-’07, next on our list is the 6’2” guard out of the University of the Philippines, Jireh Ibanes.
If your team is not Rain or Shine, you will be irritated by this guy. He is a pesky defender, the kind of player who will do whatever it takes to bother the other team’s best scorer. That’s Jireh Ibanes. Defense is the reason why Coach Yeng Guiao still has Ibanes in his rotation. He has been a part of the All-defensive team twice in his career (2011-2012 and 2013-2014) and also awarded the Defensive Player of the Year Award once (2011-2012).
He’s never been a scorer, then and now, but he more than makes up for it by being a valuable player at the other end of the floor. As a matter of fact, last conference, he was 5th in terms of defensive rating (minimum of 8 minutes played) with 90.7 joining the likes of Calvin Abueva, Rafi Reavis, Vic Manuel, and Greg Slaughter.
He is often misunderstood by the opposing team’s fans, branding him as a dirty player. Most recently, he’s being blamed for the knee injury June Mar Fajardo suffered in their semis match-up last conference. But truth be told, Jireh is not out to take out anybody. He’s not out there to hurt someone. He’s just out there, trying to do what he does best to get his team the win. Now, who wouldn’t want a guy like that on their team?
It has been mentioned several times already that “Glue Guys” are all about winning. And the last person on this short list, knows a thing or two about winning. He’s none other than the most recent Finals MVP, the game changer, Chris Ross. He was able to bag the MVP plum after a masterful showing in Game 7 of the Philippine Cup Finals against Alaska. He finished with a career-high 21 points (on 4 of 6 shooting from downtown!!) to go with 5 assists and 5 rebounds.
Primarily known for his defense and masterful way he orchestrates his team’s offense, Chris Ross is the perfect extension of Coach Leo Austria on the floor for the Beermen. His body language on the court says it all. He’s a born leader. He leads the Beermen on both ends of the floor, possessing the qualities needed to be a great floor general. Whenever things don’t go SMB’s way, he’s the guy who huddles them up and tells everybody what they should do.
Without a doubt, Chris Ross has been a large factor to SMB’s success the past conferences. Everybody already knows this but Ross always deflect the credit to his teammates and coaches. He’s out there being bombarded by adoration by lots of fans and he always talks about his teammates. He’s that kind of guy. A “Glue Guy” that makes things happen for SMB.
Just like in the NBA, scorers and high flyers get most of the credit in our local league, the PBA. If you look at some of the more popular players in the league today, they are the ones that dazzle with their moves and swish the net. Not to discredit those players, as they too are valuable to their team, but sometimes, we must also give credit to those guys who do the little things – those things go unnoticed because it doesn’t show on the stat sheet. But those things, if you add it up, can lead to wins. And those wins, can eventually lead to the most coveted thing in basketball – championships.
In the end, that’s all that matters.