Chris Speaks: Breaking the Pros
July 11, 2008 by Christian Angelo Jacinto
Hi guys, welcome to another edition of Chris Speaks and today we’ll talk about Breaking the Pros. What exactly is this entry all about? You’ll soon find out.
For many years now, we’ve seen great prospects from the UAAP and the NCAA, dominating the collegiate ranks and turning the whole Philippine basketball world crazy with a variety of moves that gives them a nod in the pro world. People would then go on and make crazy statements like.. this one is the future of Philippine Basketball and this guy will soon overtake this guy in terms of popularity and court dominance. But I’m surprised with how much most of the guys who were “supposed to dominate” the pro league would most likely end up on the team’s bench, a journeyman or to amateur leagues like the PBL, NBL/NBC and now an alternative pro league in Liga Pilipinas.
Sure, there are the likes of James Yap, Arwind Santos, Mac Cardona and Enrico Villanueva who after dominating the Collegiate ranks went on to be an instant superstar in the Pros. But there are also guys like Chris Calaguio (Had a good run in the PBA, but never really lived up to what’s expected of him), Rich Alvarez, Wesley Gonzales, Marvin Ortiguera, Dino Aldeguer, Chester Tolomia, Boyet Bautista and now turning out to be that way is JC Intal.
What’s funny is that the past 2 MVP’s of the NCAA and the last MVP of the UAAP to play in the pros (Since Jervy Cruz is still in the Collegiate ranks) is currently seating on the end of their respective team’s bench. Yes, Ken Bono and Yousif Al Jamal are playing with Magnolia and TNT.. two teams with very deep benches but man, if you’re the league MVP coming into the Pros you atleast have to have the back up role.. not the role of a high five guy.
Now, come draft 2008, do you actually think the league would even have room for local applicants like TY Tang, Jeff Chan, Cholo Villanueva, Ford Arao, Beau Belga and Kelvin dela Pena? Especially with the arrival of Gabe Norwood, Jared Dilinger, Rob Reyes and Solomon Mercardo? No, I don’t think so.
Same goes with the draft class of next year. Let’s say a very good player like Chris Tiu applies for next year’s draft.. does the league still has room for a wingman like him? Will he able to match Mac Cardona, Mark Caguioa, Cyrus Baguio, James Yap and so on to be a superstar in the league? Will he be able to match what guys like Simon, Yeo, Ritualo, Tubid, and Macapagal do to become an effective off the bench guy and gain respectable minutes as a back up? Or will he end up like the rest of the pack.. you know.. destination bench/amateurs.
So what exactly does a player need to possess to break the pros?
First off, the position being played. If you’re a guard then you really have to be something extra ordinary. We’re in a league full of guards, whether it be the point or the two guard, you have to be something special. One thing why I’m very skeptical about SLR’s decision to pick Ryan Reyes at third because he was a guard and I myself haven’t seen him play that much in the PBL. But then again, after a conference, he proved that he has something to show, enough to put him in the starting guard position of a Championship team. Ron-Jay Buenafe was basically a nobody to casual basketball fans but this guy showed something special, that’s why he’s now the starting shooting guard for his team. But how about players like Boyet Bautista and Macky Escalona? Two very good guards from the collegiate ranks but they didn’t even crack a combined 30 minutes of playing time for both of them.
Second, remember the old adage… height doesn’t matter? Well screw that cause HEIGHT DOES MATTER especially in this game. Now, with the emergence of 6’5 Point guards and 6’7 wingmen, do you really think you’d be able to hold your own against those guys? Here’s a question, if you were a general manager of a PBA team and you have the number 1 pick overall and you have to choose between a very talented shooting guard from the UAAP who stands at around 6’2 and a 6’7 Fil-Am two guard who’s not par with the local talent wise but definitely has the tools to improve.. who would you pick? Of course.. the latter. Now do you get what I’m saying? Tickle me, we’re only getting to the good part.
Our game today has improved leaps and bounds. Right now we have 7 footers who can nail three balls and 5’8 guys grabbing offensive rebounds. That’s another plus if you’re playing in the pros. You have to actually do something that’s rarely done by guys who plays the same position as yours. Why do you think guys like Mike Hrabak and Mick Pennisi are getting the playing time in Coach Yeng’s system? Right, because for their position, they can go all the way to the outside and stretch the defense.
With that being said, if you’re aspiring to be successful in the Pro ranks, you have to be someone who can play multiple positions. Take for example, Arwind Santos. Can play the four, can play the three. In that case, you can’t make a good excuse for benching that kind of a talent because if the three position is loaded then you can easily move him in the four spot. If you’re a running team, you can put him on the four spot and if you’re a big team who likes to set up a half court game, you can’t be hurt by putting him in the three spot either.
Well that’s about it. I believe that being drafted is only a ticket for you to break the pros. For you to actually say that you broke into the pro level, you have to atleast have one trait of those that I’ve mentioned above or else you’d end up on the bench or in the PBL.
Thanks for reading.
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