10 January 2012

Four Reasons why the Bolts will Self-Destruct

Coach Ryan Gregorio
Meralco Bolts is just another team trying to pretend to compete for the title, but there are many good reasons to suspect that they are not serious about it. Yeah we saw Mark Cardona snagged from sister-team Talk N’ Text and a bargain trade for Sol Mercado, but, seriously, these are not enough to buy them a shot at the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Championship in the next 5 years.

They may have added the aging behemoth, Asi Taulava, but he is only good in clogging the lanes and nothing more. Even the high-priced Reynel Hugnatan lost his hard-nosed defense after he was released by the Alaska Aces. The only bright spot for this ragtag team is power-forward Gabby Espinas, who is not afraid to go and do the dirty work of rebounding and hustling down for points. In fact, Espinas has been the only consistent performer for the Bolts in the first conference by averaging 14.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Because of their present line-up and system adopted, we have compiled our own top 4 reasons why the Bolts will more likely self destruct whenever they reach the quarters and semi-final rounds.

Playing Favourites

The Bolts and the Talk N’ Text team are both owned by Manny Pangilinan. Between the two teams, who do you think will be more favoured by the management and, therefore, gets preferential treatment whenever the two teams meet? Short of saying that the Bolts are playing half-heartedly whenever they play their more illustrious corporate counterpart, but when was the last time anybody see the Bolts win in their head-to-head match-up against the Texters? The answer is that they have not. In all their four meetings since the Bolts debuted in the PBA, the Texters won it all. Even in games that the Bolts are leading by 10-15 points in the last 2 minutes, the Texters still managed to win. Observe all those four games and you will notice that almost always there are periods in the fourth quarter that the Bolts suddenly gets defensively cold or their main players suddenly gets pulled out from action. Coincidence?


After Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes were traded to the Talk N’ Text team last May 2010 in a nine-player exchange involving the Barako Bull, Texters governor Ricky Vargas denied to the media that Manny V. Pangilinan is buying the franchise of Sta. Lucia through the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

"It's not true," Vargas said to Manila Bulletin. "If Talk 'N Text, PLDT or any company will buy a franchise, it will go through a process. Taking over Sta. Lucia (franchise) is not true."

Months after that statement was printed, the deal was consummated and the Realtors ended their PBA stint, while the Bolts begun theirs. The lie was further compounded by the one-sided deal that gave the Bolts the rights for Ali Peek, Nic Belasco, Pong Escobal, Ogie Menor, Yousif Aljamal, Mark Isip and a future rookie draft pick. Guess where Peek is playing now? Are the Bolts haunted by the management’s decision to deny publicly their plans for the Realtors years ago and by not returning Williams and Reyes to their previous team in order to correct the trade imbalance?

Ryan Gregorio

In March 2008, the Sta. Lucia Realtors defeated the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants in seven gruelling games to capture their first ever All-Filipino crown in 7 years. Coach Boyet Fernandez stirred the Realtors that was bannered by Williams, Reyes, Joseph Yeo and Dennis Espino. Coach Ryan Gregorio mapped the plays for the high-favoured Giants. Two years later, the Realtors was replaced by the Bolts in the league and Gregorio was tapped to coach the team, while Fernandez acted as his assistant. Why? Nobody really knows, but maybe close association with the management has something to do with it.

Logically, it does not make sense. Coach B designed defensive plays that overwhelmed the one-on-one plays of Coach R to capture a PBA title. So why was Coach R tapped to be the head coach of a new team, while the winning mentor was hired to be his assistant. This is really a head-scratcher move that has not reaped any fruits after two years. The only major achievement so far is that the Bolts won one game more in the elimination round of the Philippine Cup than the total won games in the same conference last year. From 7 wins in 2010 to 8 wins in 2011. Nice!

Three-Player Offensive Rotation

The main offensive plays of the Bolts revolved around three players only, Cardona, Mercado and, occasionally, Espinas. The design is simple: get the ball to Cardona or Mercado, clear out and let them drive or shoot the ball. If the defense managed to check their moves, get the ball to Espinas down low and let him shoot it instead. It cannot get more complicated than that. The question now is where will the Bolts get the rest of the points? If they cannot lure any more quality role players to replace the ineffective Jason Ballesteros and ineffective Chris Timberlake then all that is left n the next few years is downhill, and downhill fast.

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