19 October 2013

Rebuilding Options for the Meralco Bolts (Last Part)

Meralco Bolts Bench
In our last article, we described the Meralco Bolts as a team that is close to reaching their optimal potential. They have the required pieces to fill out what they need, but the work should start on how to put those pieces in their proper places and play the positions that will suit the team.

The Bolts have the aging, but effective Reynel Hugnatan primed to play the power-forward position. They also acquired a young center in Rabeh Al-Hussaini, including all the emoitional baggage that comes with him. So what else is expected from the Bolts as they look for the elusive first Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) crown?

Trading for Gary David

The second significant move I think the Bolts made after acquiring Hussaini is to bring in Mr. Hot Hands, Gary David, to replace Macmac Cardona. While the perception of David is very similar to the younger Cardona, he is in fact much more versatile.

While he came into the league as a spot-up three-point shooter only, over his years at the now defunct Coca-Cola Tigers, Air21 Express, Powerade and Globalport, he turned himself into a solid ball-handler and passer. This versatility allows him to be effective plugged into a second unit where his spacing allows him to contribute without affecting the flow and also function as a sixth man with his ability to make shots and run the pick-and-roll.

Once again, the new-age statistics paint David in a very positive light. Note that these are only from his games with the Globalport last year, since he was used in a different way with the Coca-Cola Tigers.

In 2011, he had one of the highest efficiency ratings of 40 percent, he leads the league in scoring with 25.84 per game and almost a steal per outing. He also made the most 3-Pointers and the most free-throws made during the 2011-2012 season.

The big question is whether the 35-year old shooting-guard still has what it takes to fire up the scoring boards and carry the Bolts to their first-ever Finals appearance. Given his age, David may have reached that point in his career where the ring is more important than individual awards.

Point Guard Needs

With Chris Ross gone, the Meralco Bolts will probably look up to A.J Mandani as a back-up to Mike Cortez. The team still has Paul Artadi, but the 2004 11th pick cannot effectively create his shots off the dribble.

With Mandani, the Bolts are expecting a pass-first guy who is also a brilliant ball-handler, passer and jump-shooter. Unlike Artadi, Mandani has the ability to lead an offense and create off the dribble, he can run the pick-and-roll and his shooting ability makes him a potential shooting guard as well since he stands 6'0".

While the second round pick in 2012 did not see much game time for the Globalport for most of his career, he is the sort of player who could be very good at the PBA level. And, if his lack of athleticism and unproven three-point shooting makes him too much of a liability, then he can be easily cut at no waste since he comes with no guaranteed contract. Artadi and Allan Mangahas are still there to take up the cudgels.

In Summary

While the Bolts would want to make other moves to fill out their roster because they don’t have any draft picks this coming season, the reality is that most of those players will not see any significant minutes and are therefore chosen more for their developmental potential, their positive impact on team chemistry or mentoring young players.

Since there is really no way for an outsider like me to know about this sort of stuff or who will be available for cheap-year contracts, I will not bother trying to predict these.

Anyway, here is the projected starting lineup and second unit for my ideal offseason. Please comment if you feel I should have done something different.

C: Rabeh Al-Hussaini / Jay-R Reyes / James Sena

PF: Reynel Hugnatan / Josh Vanlandingham / Don Allado

SF: Clifford Hodge / Nelbert Omolon / Sunday Salvacion

SG: John Wilson / Gary David / Rey Gueverra

PG: Mike Cortez / Paul Artadi / A.J. Mandani / Allan Mangahas

Jared Dillinger will also get some heavy minutes because he can play multiple positions. He could be utilized as the sixth man off the bench to replace anybody in the line-up that does not perform well.


  1. big man..... thats what they needed.... get a quality big man, legit center willing to get those rebounds and banged-up, but it seems all the big man are in smc line up already including the picks for this years draft, wheres the balance in this? tsk tsk... big problem for pba....

    1. Definitely agree with you. There are some teams who are hoarding players just because they can. I'm not even sure if the salary cap rule is being implemented fairly.