If there’s one thing we know about the GlobalPort Batang Pier, it’s the fact that this is a franchise that doesn’t like to stand pat. Ever since buying the Powerade franchise in 2012, this team has already gone through so many iterations. From Coach Glenn Capacio / Junel Baculi and the MMDA (Mercado, Miller, David and Aguilar) to Coach Pido Jarencio with Cabagnot, Washington, Romeo and Garcia, this franchise has been turned around and upside down in the span of a year.
In the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup, the Batang Pier started with a new coach at the helm, while having to integrate import Evan Brock and starting point guard Alex Cabagnot to the mix. Not surprisingly, the team has struggled out of the gate, posting the worst differential as of -10.2, while losing all of their games so far in the conference.
To try and pinpoint the reasons behind GlobalPort’s struggles will be a pretty daunting task as it is surely a combination of so many factors. This post will not try to do that. Instead, we will try to sneak a peek into what’s troubling the team by focusing on Jay Washington, a player who’s definitely feeling the effects of his team’s new direction this conference.
In five games this conference, Washington’s numbers have declined across the board. (3/23/2014)
Washington’s advanced offensive metrics have taken a sharp decline as well. (Stats as of 3/23/2014)
Imports and Injuries
Before anything, we know that right from the get-go, Washington already has two things going against him. First, the presence of Evan Brock on the team takes away a bulk of the front court minutes and secondly, Washington is coming back from a partial tear to his plantar fascia, which caused him to miss GlobalPort’s last three Philippine Cup games.
Surely, both the presence of an import and coming back from an injury will affect a player like Washington. But, his (and to an extent, the team’s) struggles also stem from some growing pains with the team’s new system. Let’s take a look at them below.
Going Big, Going Small
Coach Pido has decided to go big this conference, slotting Washington almost exclusively at the small forward spot while letting Brock, Salvador and Nabong play most of the front court minutes. In theory, placing Washington at the three gives the team an instant mismatch on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor and with the presence of imports in this conference, one really can’t blame Coach Pido for going with this strategy.
As a result of this, Coach Pido has made posting up his small forward a big part of his offensive system.
The video above shows us three sets run for Washington. The first two sets show him getting (somewhat) of a good position against a smaller defender in Borboran, but instead of pushing the defender further inside the paint, Washington decides to shoot over and pass-out on those instances respectively.
The last play is from GlobalPort’s game against Ginebra. In it, we see Washington run across multiple screens along the baseline, receive the ball out on the perimeter, attacks Ellis, tries to back him down and ends up shooting an off-balance, turnaround, heavily contested jumper that doesn’t hit the rim.
Washington does have a physical advantage over most small forwards in the league, but for some reason (lingering effects of the injury perhaps?), he has been unable to use this advantage in the post. He can hit that mid-range jumper and has the vision to pass out of the post, but choosing not to attack this mismatch makes it extremely difficult for any offense to work.
Another effect of being placed at the SF spot in this Batang Pier offense would be the large amount of time Washington will spend spotting-up on the corners. With Cabagnot and Brock presenting a dynamic pick and roll duo, all other players on the court will be placed in spots that will give the aforementioned duo as much space as possible to play their two man game.
Now for some video evidence:
In the clips above, we see Washington get looks from the corner, but is unable to convert. For the conference, he’s just making 20 percent (down from 28 percent last conference) of his shots from beyond the arc. It seems as well that opposing teams know this. Notice how both Lamizana and Rogers sag away from Washington to prevent drives to the paint, content with giving him the open shot from that corner.
Looking closer at the set against Ginebra, we see how the presence of both Nabong and Washington on the same side of the floor kills any chances of Brock being able to drive inside.
If we replaced Nabong with Washington and placed a decent shooter in the corner, then Slaughter would’ve strayed out of the paint more, giving Brock a better look at a drive to the basket in this scenario.
Where are the Charities?
Perhaps the biggest drop-off in Washington’s game is seen through his numbers from the free throw line.
Last conference, Washington normed 5.2 charities per game, including games where he attempted more than 10 free throws. In five games this conference, he has gotten to the line only once.
Based on what we’ve seen so far in this conference, we could conclude that Washington’s struggles are a combination from his recovery from injury and adjustments to Coach Pido’s new system (although I do feel that it’s more of the latter than the former). His struggles do not make up the entirety of GlobalPort’s poor performance this conference, but an improvement in his confidence and comfort level in his role should exponentially increase the Batang Pier’s chances of stringing together a few wins in the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup.
GlobalPort fell to 0-6 after going up against a powerhouse San Miguel Beer team last Monday. Despite the loss, we saw some very good things (on the offensive end at least) from Washington, who finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds on 56 percent shooting. He was clearly more aggressive in the paint, taking it hard to the basket against Lutz, Lassiter and Santos on multiple occasions. This resulted in two charities attempted (making one), bringing his conference total to three trips to the line.