The PBA Governor's Cup will only have one champion. But the PBA is a league of farmers and harvesters, and it only gets exciting when the "haves" go against each other.
However, the anticipated series between Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer was anticlimactic, to say the least. It was a three-game sweep, and Ginebra won the first two games in convincing fashion, before SMB gave a close fight in the third game.
There was no "Sagip Kapamilya" or series extension for ticket sales, as most fans suspect. Ginebra got down to business. Perhaps they were tired since most of them also played in the FIBA Asian Qualifiers, and wanted all the rest they can get. But the downfall of the Beermen is what catches our attention.
SMB is a juggernaut. More than just a titan, a juggernaut is an unstoppable force, the way they presented it in Marvel Comics with the classic villain. Juggernaut literally cannot be stopped. With the roster they have on paper, you would think that they should perform that way.
The Value in Most Valuable
Perhaps we can appreciate the value of JuneMar Fajardo in his absence, since he was getting a lot of criticism while he was playing. Those were not attacks on JuneMar, it was simply the passage of time.
Fajardo is no longer as dominant as he was five years ago. At the same time, players around him are taller and faster. He showed more weaknesses that opposing coaches can now exploit, as shown in the game against Converge.
It only showed how reliant SMB was on the six-time MVP. Despite the shameful wealth of talent around Fajardo, their offense revolved around him. Part of this reliance likely factored into the decision to switch coaches. Leo Austria was an old school patron, and he had the perfect tools to execute it. This led to the 'Death Lineup.' But Father Time always prevails, and he caught up with the mighty quintet.
Side note: The six consecutive MVPs that JuneMar Fajardo won may go down as an unbreakable record. I can only see one scenario where that would be in danger: If Kai Sotto decides to play in the PBA.
The Beermen tried to make gradual shifts, but somehow, they were not able to fully utilize the pieces they gathered. They had Gilas draftee Allyn Bulanadi coming off the bench, while Terrence Romeo never got playing time at all.
Many of the players they acquired had lower production than previous teams. That should be anticipated since you're joining a superteam. But the drop-off has been considerably alarming.
Not exactly a team
It has been observed that SMB played more as a collection of talent rather than an actual team. SMB didn't have the frequent import problems they faced. Cameron Clark was a perfect fit for them, and he played better than he did with his previous PBA team (the exception to the rule in SMB, aside from Mo Tautuaa).
Even if the Beermen has the talent to buck the loss of JuneMar, especially in terms of offensive firepower, they just were not on the level of other teams, specifically Ginebra. The Gin Kings are at their peak. They also have the most tried and tested coach in Philippine basketball. The Beermen needed more time to develop chemistry.
The Beermen will undergo growing pains, but unfortunately, the team managers are not content with that. Anticipate more knee-jerk trades involving the Beermen. They will try to amass more talent, but that will not always produce instant results.
It would be a mistake to just go after big names without considering the fit for the system. SMB is not Blackwater, which needs more talent, period. Otherwise, we'll see more underachieving seasons.
Shifting to college basketball, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons just secured the commitment of Jared Bahay from Ateneo de Cebu. A top prospect, it was believed he'd try a school where he can be the leader. In UP, he has the duo of Terence Fortea and Gerry Abadiano to contend with.
The Maroons should be careful with this, and look carefully at San Miguel's fate.2023-03-31T17:55:45Z dg43tfdfdgfd