I am sure some readers would say that my picking of Barangay Ginebra to emerge winner in its ongoing best-of-seven showdown against TNT Tropang Giga is playing it safe for me.
After all, even as I am penning this piece, the Gin Kings have made it 3-1 after four games. And by the time you are reading this, I will not be surprised at all that Ginebra may have already wrapped up the series in Game 5, Wednesday night.
But then, it is a fact for me that even prior to the start of the PBA bubble tournament, I already picked Ginebra as one of the top picks, together with San Miguel Beer (I bombed out on that). In the semifinals against Meralco, again, I picked Ginebra to advance to the finals, and I knew whoever they meet for the crown, I still would pick Tim Cone’s squad.
And if ever TNT comes up with a shocking win in Game 5, Ginebra will still end up finishing the series as champion.
So why am I so sure that crowd favorite Ginebra, playing without a crowd this time, will win the Philippine Cup? This is the strongest and most balanced squad I have seen in recent years, loaded in all positions, supported by the fact that different players are playing the hero’s role.
Japeth Aguilar is playing at his best; LA Tenorio is providing solid leadership, leading his team to victory in Game 4; Stanley Pringle is pretty consistent with his offense; and Scottie Thomson is playing all around with spunk. There’s also the supporting cast of Joe Devance, Aljon Mariano, Jared Dillinger, Arvin Tolentino, shooter Jeff Chan and big man Prince Caperal.
Then, a head coach like Tim. Give him these kinds of talent and he will end up winning a lot more games than he would lose.
What is surprising are the close games that TNT is giving Ginebra practically every night, except that blowout win in Game 3. Surprising, because the Tropang Giga are missing two key players as the series progressed.
Ray Parks, a big factor in the semis, saw action only in Game 1, before suffering a calf injury that forced him to sit out the next three games. He is a very doubtful starter for Game 5.
Then, you have veteran point guard Jayson Castro, who is bothered no end by a bone spurs problem and was not playing at 100 %. He is also a question mark for Game 5.
Even if the trio of RR Pogoy, Troy del Rosario and Poi Erram, and throw in Simon Enciso, all level up, it will not be enough to beat the loaded line up of Ginebra.
It is all but a matter of time when Ginebra crowns itself as champion.
What I would like to look forward to, will be the 2021 basketball season, not just in the PBA, but also the UAAP, which might end up playing only the men’s and women’s basketball, though I cannot believe the league, if given the go signal can afford not to include women’s volleyball in its schedule.
The PBA is already wheeling and dealing, with lots of major trades seemingly under negotiation, if not done deals.
I just hope that the league, now that it has reached near parity for more teams, except for a few, will not allow the strong teams to get even stronger with lopsided trades.
This Sunday, THE SWAB will be featuring Part 1 of our episode on Joshua and Jerome Nelmuda, our blind paratriathletes. Please watch and be inspired with what these born-blind athletes will share. I host this vlog with my nephew Vivid Jay Gueco.