29 November 2011

What Lies Ahead for Bolts' Newbies?

Bolts' Newbies
And just like that, the Bolts were able to secure the much needed big men from the draft. The season has just started for the Bolts, but it appears that they already step on the wrong foot when they acquired their picks using questionable means. But as one of our bloggers rooting for the Petron Boosters indicated on his site, "Walang manlolokong team sa PBA kung ang fans ay di magpapaloko".

What the Bolts pick from the draft and acquired from the free agency pool were role players who are expected to give quality minutes when their first five rest on the bench. They have the potential to excel beyond what is expected from them, but how these players can adjust and blend with the existing roster will be the ultimate test to find out if the team will be able to build a potentially stronger base for a championship run in 2011-2012.

The previous season was extremely turbulent for this sophomore team and the trade scenarios that transformed this roster into what we see today had a profound effect on the team's chemistry. Once the trade took place, the Bolt's season appeared like a predictable movie. The trades were the big plot twist and we could almost see the ending of this season right down to the closing credits. Trading for the right to pick Jason Ballesteros and Gilbert Bulawan are expected to help the team's defense. It's almost baffling to think the value of Marlou Aquino of 3 years ago meant as much as he did to the team’s offense despite only averaging in single digits in both points and rebounds last year.

What it boils down to was Aquino's and Asi Taulava's ability to clog the paint defensively and grab rebounds. They were the deterrent for opposing lane drivers and as we all know defense leads to offense. Both players also knew the offense and could set bone shattering screens with their 6'9" frames that would get their teammates open looks on pin downs and screen and roll. That was their value coupled with maturity in the locker room.

When the two former San Sebastian Stag stalwarts were picked from the draft, it was supposed to equate to address an embarrassment performance by the bigs on the roster. Unfortunately, this move will has only made the team's frontline become a luxury to necessity and force them to play Russian roulette each game. The management has acted in the draft on what they thought is for the best interest of the team. They took a shot. They made a call and all their fans now know that they are wrong.

Mark Macapagal, Chico Lanete and Mark Yee were brought on to provide depth behind Sol Mercado and Macmac Cardona. Clearly the stage and the pressure were too big for the two scoring dynamo and they often looked like men haunted by the ghost of great guards. Question is, are the three new players ready for the pressure of the semis or their role off the bench? Macapagal struggled at the Powerade camp while trying to play second fiddle to Gary David. Chico Lanete has not really done anything spectacular except for one buzzer beater shot in a game a few years ago and Yee may have probably cost himself some undignified taunting from fans after his below the belt antics in last conference’s championship series.

Part of being in a family/business is understanding when people should come and go. Aquino is probably going to retire and Taulava we can only hope is going for a second wind. Coach Ryan Gregorio must now decide who among the new breed of Bolts will carry part of the load both offensively and defensively. Whoever will be selected will need to be accepted and brought up to speed relatively quickly. If only assistant coach Boyet Fernandez will be given a chance to take over the major chores, there is no doubt he is capable of such a task. The Meralco principles during the early years of the league are that of a champion. Nurturing the new players and exposing them to the Meralco tradition will be a matter of personal business in pursuit of their first ever crown since they took over the Sta. Lucia franchise.

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