View From the Enemy: Petron Blaze Boosters


The PBA is back and GlobalPort fans have to be ecstatic about the team’s off-season moves that has given the team a clean slate and a positive outlook (at least on paper). Last season, GlobalPort finished with a disappointing cumulative record of 7-31, far from what owner Mikee Romero envisioned for the first year of his pro basketball debut. Trying to change their fortunes, the Batang Pier became one of the busiest teams this off-season, with several interesting trades and exciting draft additions.

globalport holdovers additions rookies

Amazingly, there were only five guys held over from last year’s roster and 11 new guys coming in. Not to mention Batang Pier also have a new head coach in Richie Ticzon. Let’s take at the new-look GlobalPort depth chart:

GlobalPort Depth Chart

globalport depth chart 2

Guard situation

GlobalPort will probably go with a 3 guard rotation involving Sol Mercado, RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo, with RR Garcia getting the starting nod along with Sol Mercado. The young team will most likely need Romeo’s scoring abilities in the 2nd unit and he is probably more suited in a bench role for now. The good thing about having a Sol Mercado on your team is that he is versatile enough to play both guard spots. He can play SG when RR is on the floor and PG when Romeo is on the floor. What worries me though is when Mercado has to rest and the Garcia-Romeo tandem has to man the backcourt. Veteran guards might take advantage of the inexperience of the young guards during this scenario, or maybe coach Ticzon might opt to slide Belencion to the 2 spot? We’ll see.

SF situation

I don’t think there’s a clear starter for the SF spot. In my opinion, Najorda, Belencion and Salva will have to compete for minutes at the 3. Coach Richie might also try to mix SF lineups to matchup with the opponent.

PF-C situation

Jay Washington is pretty much a lock at the 4 spot. Kelly Nabong being younger and quicker than Menk will probably get the nod at the starting position (this coincides with Ticzon’s uptempo offensive plan). Nabong might also be a better matchup against Fajardo so he probably gets the nod in the first game vs. Petron. (Villanueva will probably be out a while recovering from ACL injury)

Things to look out for in Globalport’s first game

Sol Mercado attacking Petron defense. (Photo Credit: Paolo Papa)

Sol Mercado attacking the Petron defense. (Photo Credit: Paolo Papa)

1. Basketball Strategy

Coach Richie Ticzon has explicitly said he wants to run everytime on offense.

This is a young team. So tatakbo kami. We will definitely run. Awhile ago, yung rebounding namin, medyo kulang, kailangan namin i-stress ‘yun. We will go three-point shot every transition if we can. Walang problema. We have the guns to do that. We will run everytime -Richie Ticzon

I’m not too sure about the three on every transition but running the break and getting easy shots will probably be a good plan for this team. I’m more interested though on what the halfcourt set plan is and how good this team will be on defense. I can imagine this team being really good with pick and roll plays (especially since the young guards Romeo and RR used a lot of pick and roll plays in FEU and Sol can practically do any offense). Hopefully spacing will be good if they plan on shooting a lot of threes. Since Globalport basically did an overhaul of its roster, communication and chemistry might not be there yet so defensively they might struggle early on. We might see glimpses though of what the long term plan is on defense during their first game.

2. Mercado/Washington leadership roles

Being a very young team, Mercado and Washington have to be more vocal leaders and take more responsibility for the team. Its on them to lead this team and help develop its players. I also thought the Eric Menk addition was also good for Globalport. Its nice to have a veteran presence that gives your young guys some guidance on how to play the game.

3. Rookies
Brobalport Draft picks RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo and Nico Salva. (Photo Credit: Czeasar Dancel, NPPA Images)

BrobalPort Draft picks RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo and Nico Salva. (Photo Credit: Czeasar Dancel, NPPA Images)

Out of all the teams, Globalport might actually have the most exciting set of rookies. Also, the success of the Batang Pier might depend on how quickly the rookies can adjust to the PBA, as most of their rookies will be thrown into the fire and are expected to contribute right away.

UAAP MVP Terrence Romeo will be fun to watch when he gets on a roll. Actually, he’s fun to watch even when he’s just dribbling (with his Jamal Crawford like moves). He was definitely an elite scorer in college and hopefully it translates to the PBA. The next step for his game is better shot selection and reading defenses better.

RR Garcia was a savvy veteran and crafty playmaker in college. He also shoots really well from the perimeter.

Nico Salva was an elite scorer for the Ateneo Blue Eagles. He can definitely score the ball but his draft stock probably plummeted because of being a tweener (undersized 4, not quick enough for the 3). He does have some athleticism and it will be interesting how he pans out.

With the Eric Menk addition, I’m not sure Justin Chua will be able to play right away. He might have a few minutes early on in the season and will definitely see less minutes when Villanueva comes back.

Keys to the game

1. Run like the wind

Just like Richie Ticzon said, Globalport has to get out on the break and get easy baskets.

2. Rebound

Globalport has to find a way to keep the rebounding battle close if they want to win. Petron has excellent rebounders in Fajardo, Santos and Kramer. They have to neutralize this advantage.

3. Threes

The three ball is probably going to be a big part of the Globalport offense and they have to knock down shots if they want to win.

Final Thoughts

Petron is a powerhouse team and GlobalPort will have their hands full. If Batang Pier wants to win they have to play almost perfect basketball against the Blaze Boosters. But then again, GlobalPort will have the element of surprise being a relatively “new” team. No one knows what to expect from them and might actually just shock the league in their first game of the season.