The Sophomore Slump of 2013

March 22, 2013 by  

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In 2011, the best draft class since the 2003 PBA Draft emerged. The batch was littered by the best amateurs eligible as well as the highly-favored prospects from the Rajko Toroman-led Smart-Gilas Pilipinas squad that placed fourth in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships.

The fourth place finish for Team Pilipinas was the best finish for the country since the days of Northern Consolidated Cement and despite the additions of Asi Taulava, Ranidel de Ocampo, Kelly Williams, and Jimmy Alapag, paving the way for its success are Jayvee Casio, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Mac Baracael, Mark Barroca, Dylan Ababou, Jason Ballesteros, and Magi Sison.

And then we need to check out players like former UAAP Mythical Member Paul Lee, UAAP Champ Eric Salamat, NCAA Champions Pamboy Raymundo and Gilbert Bulawan, PBA D-League’s inaugural MVP Allein Maliksi, and former FEU Tamaraw Reil Cervantes.

The batch started out with pedigree but one year later, it doesn’t make any sense to give these guys the accolades they had during their rookie season.

Game starts now.

1 – JAYVEE CASIO / POWERADE
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: POWERADE TO ALASKA

The sale of Powerade to GlobalPort and the eagerness of Mikee Romero to target Willie Miller is enough to package Casio in what is a monumental deal. Before the deal Casio, looms to be a star. At least unlike his other Smart-Gilas teammates, he is still on the rise with the Alaska Aces. The future continues to look bright for the 26 year old sophomore.

2 – PAUL LEE / RAIN OR SHINE
BATCH’S ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: HAS YET TO BE TRADED

Packaged from Cobra Commander to Angas ng Tondo (I hate his Lee-thal Weapon shtick), Paul Lee finished his rookie season on the injured list but not before helping Rain or Shine win their first ever PBA title. Blame it on his injury (or perhaps team chemistry) but Lee’s offense is struggling this season. People pegged this 24 year old scorer to have superstar numbers but that’s not going to happen with the way he’s playing.

3 – CHRIS LUTZ / PETRON
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: HAS YET TO BE TRADED
(Pick originally meant for Barako Bull)

Lutz is perhaps the most consistent shooter of his batch – contrary to the role he worked on during his Smart-Gilas days. The other thing Lutz is consistent at – injuries. It seems as if Lutz can’t shake off the injury bug that littered his rookie as well as his sophomore season. This needs to be corrected since people tend to forget that Lutz is an old second year player at 28 years of age.

4 – MARCIO LASSITER / POWERADE
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: POWERADE TO PETRON

As part of the Powerade Tigers, Lassiter was pegged as one of the best players to come out of his batch. He is a stat magnet that can pull out all punches on both ends of the court. However, ever since he was traded to Petron, his career took a dive. While he is still 25, playing behind Arwind Santos and Jay Washington as well as the other veterans made him lose his minutes, scoring privies, and most importantly his confidence.

5 – MARK BARROCA / B-MEG
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: HAS YET TO BE TRADED
(Pick originally meant for Shopinas)

Dubbed by his fans as The Coffee Prince, the former FEU guard is now the groomed successor to the starting PG job once held by Willie Generalao, Dindo Pumaren, Donking Sasuman, Boyet Fernandez, Noy Castillo, and Roger Yap. The problem is, it’s as if he can’t get a good hold of the position. Tim Cone traded his vets for the 26-year-old to get exclusive dibs and he has yet to pick up the pace.

6 – MAC BARACAEL / ALASKA
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: ALASKA TO GINEBRA

No question, Kalibre 45 is a promising combo forward. However, Alaska elected to trade him because they would rather develop their other promising combo forward… Calvin Abueva. While the 27-year-old can play power forward in college, he can’t really play as such in the PBA especially with the imports. He’s also more of a Ronald Tubid mode and with Mark Caguioa and Chris Ellis manning the SG/SF spots, Baracael is having a hard time getting minutes.

7 – JASON BALLESTEROS / MERALCO
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: MERALCO TO BARAKO BULL

The former San Sebastian center played little minutes in his rookie season – playing behind Asi Taulava and Jay-R Reyes. He could have played more for the Bolts with the departure of Asi but he was sent to the Energy Colas. At 27, he is returning to the “familiar” system of Rajko Toroman where he sits on the bench looking aimlessly on finding a way to get inside the court.

8 – ALLEIN MALIKSI / BARAKO BULL
(Pick originally meant for Petron)
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: BARAKO BULL TO GINEBRA TO BARAKO BULL

The high-flying 25-year-old from UST could be the subject of the current trade rule revision. After an injury the ruined his strong initial showing for Barako Bull, he saw his stock fall when he got traded to Ginebra. Worse, his injuries began to recur anew. Thankfully he was traded back to Barako Bull where he is getting adequate time to shine – contrary to his other batchmates.

9 – REIL CERVANTES / GINEBRA
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: GINEBRA TO BARAKO BULL

Now 26, Cervantes took the Elmer Espiritu route by wasting away the accomplishments he gathered in the UAAP by struggling in the PBA. But while Espiritu has proven himself, Cervantes has yet to show the full extent of his capabilities. Or maybe he already did? If that’s the case then he’s in for a bad third season… if he manages to qualify for one.

10 – DYLAN ABABOU / BARAKO BULL
CURRENT TEAM ROUTE: BARAKO BULL TO GINEBRA

Also 26, it shocked everyone that the former MVP was picked dead last in the first round but quickly made up for this by impressing the hell out of everybody. For those reasons, he was sought by the Gin Kings. Problem is, he hasn’t had the same performance he unleashed while playing for Barako Bull. Worse, his sophomore season ended in just two games due to an ACL.

We have seen this in the draft class of Rico Maierhofer as well as in the draft class of Nonoy Baclao. Because a lot of the young players are bounced from team to team, the “future” can’t seem to develop. That’s why I applaud Commissioner Chito Salud for improving the free agent and trading situation rule. This move spares rookies from getting locked on an environment that doesn’t warrant growth. This is also a good way to prelude expansion. I think this is the right time to consider expanding the teams – especially since single round robin elimination conferences amount to just a measly nine games for the sewer dwellers. Salud has already “cleaned up” the bad and lopsided trades – so the next step would definitely border on how the league can raise better profit.

Anyway, two years later, the PBA got it right on the first two choices but seeing that the draft was littered by a lot of players with international exposure. They are the best college basketball could offer during their time and could offer more if given the chance to prove their selves.

Game over!

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