31 July 2013

Best and Worst Case Scenario

Bolts Bench
There will be a lot of FIBA Asia Basketball next month and just about anything could happen while the competition heats up in the PBA. So I thought why not come up with a set of bookends on what might happen with my favorite PBA team, the Meralco Bolts.

This like a best case and worst case breakdown, which is similar to what one of the Boston Celtics bloggers wrote a couple of days ago. The trick is to decide on how you define “best”. Is it winning as many games as possible or losing them? For the sake of my sanity and dignity, I'm going to stick with good old winning being the "best" case.

Best Case:

Macmac Cardona suddenly realized that he is the star of the team and decided to shoot the lights out of the ball. He averages 20 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds per game (racking up dozens of double-double performance). Jared Dillinger is a stud with 18 points per game and an increasingly effective defensive presence. Chris Ross develops a high-percentage 3-point shot and wins defensive player of the year. Clifford Hodge averages a double-double with zero back pain and Jay-r Reyes develops himself as one of the best young centers in the game.

John Vanlandingham wins hands-down as the best 6th man off the bench, while Reynel Hugnatan, Mark Borboran and Rey Guevarra re-established their trade value by playing solid minutes off the bench. To top it all, coach Ryan Gregorio proves me wrong and turns out to be a genius and mixes and matches line-ups and schemes that confuse opponents and dazzle coaches everywhere as they try to duplicate his success by mimicking his style.

This is just a bonus: the team shocks the world and enters the Finals for the first time in the company’s three-year history. They knocked off the fancied Ginebra Kings in the first round of the quarterfinals and take their sister team, Talk N’ Text, to a fifth game in the semi-final round before winning by a point.

The young Bolts enter the next off-season with one of the best, young line-ups in the game, lots of tradeable assets, and future flexibility. Ray-ray Park, Greg Slaughter and Ian Sangalang turned out to be busts and the Bolts picks up a player that slides down the draft board for no apparent reason and became a future star.

Worst Case:

Take all the above predictions and dial them down about 15 percent. Cardona is an All Star but not top 15 in the league. Dillinger is playing inconsistently or consistent in being an-off-and-on player. The young guys are developing nicely but have their moments where they look their age. Coach Gregorio is forced to rely heavily upon Hugnatan, Borboran and Guevarra. The team still manages to work their way to a .500 record and 3 other teams have sub-.500 records so the Bolts still appear to be a mirror of a team that it once started back three years ago.

The Ginebra Kings humiliate the team with a 2-game sweep, laughing all the way to anther franchise title. The Bolts end up with a terrible pick and Gregorio stumbles and bumbles his way into bad trades that keep the Bolts locked into the "good enough to barely make the quarterfinals but not good enough to really compete" at no-mans-land. Also, on the last day of the season Cardona and Dillinger gets sidelined at the same time. So does Hodge.

Ok, I can't leave you like that. That's too dour. Let's go with a possible and achievable best case.

Best-Worse Case Remix:

Gregorio has the team fighting hard and learning a lot, but the wins don't come. The team undergoes a lingering 10-game losing streak when Dillinger was still not cleared to play. Hodge and Ross suffered minor injuries that linger because of their high-octane performance, but it was not deemed serious. The Bolts trade the near-maximum contracts of Hugnatan, Borboran and a future draft pick for the right to pick first and the draft. The team was able to snag Parks from the draft and he turned out to be better than former multi-MVPs Willie Miller and James Yap.

The Bolts was able to pick up one or two more star players via a trade for Cardona and the team are able to rack up several titles to replace Talk N’ Text as the most favored team of Manny Pangilinan. Asi Taulava and Kelly Williams even came back for a year to finish their basketball careers as Bolts.

I'm still dreaming, so don't wake me up.


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