02 October 2014

Breaking Down the Bolts' PF Rotation

Bolts PF Rotation
If there’s one thing that the Meralco Bolts can claim to have a good amount of talent, then it should be at the power-forward position.

The power-forward plays a crucial role in the smooth operation of a basketball team. The are expected to be excellent rebounders – and just as importantly, must be able to take care of the ball after securing it.

At present, the Bolts is lucky that both their primary power-forwards are capable of hitting open shots and can be the team’s spark capable of making a big play for the team.

Let us take a look at what are the available options for the Bolts at that position and see if it can take their game to another level.

Key Rotation Player

Cliff Hodge
(30 games played, 31.3 MPG, 10.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG)

Hodge is the unit's unquestioned future star. Gary David may be their primary scoring option, but without a doubt, the Bolts future lies with Hodge.

The third-year forward was picked forth overall by the Bolts franchise during the 2012 Pba Rookie Draft and he immediately made a good account of himself that year (9.7 PPG and 6.4 RPG) which earned him membership in the PBA all-rookie team.

Hodge was on fire to start the 2013-2014 season, hovering around 47-50 percent from distance and leading the league in that category for a couple of days. He used to operate inside the shaded lane, but he upgraded his arsenal and included a three-point shot among his favourite offensive options. The 26-year old athletic forward cooled off, but he still posted a career-best 29.4 percent mark behind the arc.

During the 2014 Governor’s Cup, Hodge reached double digits in all of his nine games and average a whooping 18.2 PPG. In addition to draining open looks from the distance, Hodge has hounded the opposing team’s imports, even containing the likes of Marqus Blakely.

Some call Hodge a small forward; some call him a power forward. But whichever side of the fence you're on, the high-flying forward can play either way, so it's not a significant debate, regardless.

In The Rotation

Sean Anthony
(23 games played, 21.4 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG)

Anthony was drafted sixth overall in 2010 by the Air21 Express but was immediately shipped to the Powerade Tigers on draft night. In his rookie year, he won the Rookie Sophomore Blitz game MVP.

On 12 September 2014, the Bolts acquired the Fil-Canadian player in a three-way trade involving NLEX Road Warriors and Blackwater Elite. NLEX obtained Blackwater's 2016 and 2017 2nd round pick along with the draft rights for Juneric Baloria. Blackwater received Sunday Salvacion and Jason Ballesteros.

With the Bolts, Anthony will face a tough road ahead, as he returns from a left Achilles tendon strain and attempts to establish himself as the prime reliever of Hodge.

After making mostly spot starts in his third year as a pro with the defunct Air21 Express, Anthony will once again be attempting to hold off the competition for playing time. During the past four seasons, it has been customary for Anthony to begin the season on the bench while others get their chances, but the sharp-shooting forward almost always ends the season in the rotation.

Anthony, coming off one his best season so far, could thrive in Black’s up-tempo style. He's an athletic forward, who can consistently knock down the three-point shot. But it will most likely come down to whether the coach values Anthony’s shooting, or the rebounding potential.

When the Express’ battled San Miguel Beermen and their twice-to-beat advantage in the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals, Anthony averaged 21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals to win the series. It shows Anthony’s willingness to risk everything to lead the Air21 Express to their first ever finals berth.

He's a consummate pro that can be counted on with a definite upside. If Hodge and Anthony show they're ready to shift between the two forward positions, then they may be able to displace Dillinger in the starting five. Bolts fans should look at Anthony’s versatility to earn him a spot somewhere in the rotation.

John Ferriols
(6 games played, 4.3 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.2 APG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG)

The former star in the defunct MBA, Ferriols just could not get the right timing for his career to finally take off in the league. Playing in several teams since joining the league way back in 2003, this Davao City-born cager still managed to find ways to be useful to the teams that he has played with. He started his career with the Air21 Express, where he achieved his best production yet (10.9 PPG and 7.8 RPG). He was last seen wearing the Talk 'N Text uniform where he was relegated to a bench reliever.

It is expected that with the dearth of Meralco bigs, the 6'4" southpaw forward will get some playing time during the All-Filipino conference, but it would still be a far cry from his dominating presence in the defunct MBA.

The 40-year old Ferriols may be signed by the Bolts and will probably be known as the oldest player of the team, but this does not discount the fact that he could be the insurance player in case some players gets injured or sidelines.

Mark Bringas

Bringas has the distinction of being the final player to be tabbed in the biggest - and perhaps deepest - draft pool ever in the 39-year history of the PBA last year.

The former Far Eastern University (FEU) stalwart was chosen by Meralco as the 44th and last pick out of the record 79 rookie hopefuls who made themselves available in the rookie proceedings. He has not played any official game, was signed as a practice player and indications show that he will remain that way this season unless some major disaster struck the Bolts.

Position Outlook

The Bolts power-forward rotation has been an all-Hodge show for years now to make a legitimate threat. With Anthony in tow, the team has the luxury of playing them both together or having one lead the second unit. Hodge is definitely stronger between the two, but Anthony can make the opposing team look awful if he is "in the zone." However, don't expect to see much of Ferriols just yet, unless he can give the coaching staff enough reason to field him ahead of the two superstars in the position.

Few teams can claim to have two above average athletic power-forwards than can also function as killer shooter when left open. The Bolts now has this. If they can only improve their center position further, then they can claim to be a true contender.

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