The 52,000-plus strong crowd that watched the first games of this season’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) inaugural at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on October 19 shows that the country’s pro cage league is here to stay. And it is quite good news that the PBA will get actively involved in preparing for the country’s international cage stints.
It seems that basketball is now part of the Filipino psyche, even if the Koreans, Chinese, Iranians and even Sudanese are learning to play the game better and have players that are bigger than the average Filipino cager. So why not make the PBA evolutionary in nature, instead of following what the other pro leagues in the world are doing? So here are a few suggestions to spice up the PBA and make it more relevant in preparing the national team for international stints:
• Four point shot—I think the three-point shot was thought about, among others, to generate more excitement and encourage more cagers to take outside shots. And I really loved it when deadshots like Bogs Adornado, Ricardo Brown, Allan Caidic and Arthur Engelland sank three-pointers with impunity that shocked the opposing team. So just imagine if a four-point shot was included in the league and the “pioneers” would sink them with impunity. Having a four-point should would also give the smaller guys more leverage over those who lord it in the shaded area. And just imagine how the country’s “four-point shot experts” would sow terror in international competitions?
• Relegation of bottom teams to the D-League—there should be a conference (preferably the All-Filipino) where the four bottom teams in the PBA would be disqualified to play, and the top four teams in the Development League (D-League) be promoted to play in the PBA also for one conference. With this arrangement, the bottom teams in the PBA will really have to double their efforts just to stay in the middle pack.
• Implement the quotient system—this can be done only for one conference. With the quotient system, all the teams will be forced to slug it out until the last second of the game. This will eventually force all teams to utilize their bench more fully, which will give those who hardly get minutes to play or the bench warmers a chance to showcase their wares.
As to the formation of the national cage team, seeking a new coach is just a first step. Although Chot Reyes has been chastised left and right for the country’s poor finish in the Inchon Asian Games and the 2014 World FIBA meet, I will withhold judgement on him. The more critical matter at hand is to identify the players who would form the core of the national team, and I have a few suggestions for the “role” players.
• Banger—Dennis Still of the Northern Consolidated Corporation basketball team in the 1980s best exemplified the “banger” who had more heft than height, and is willing to push or shove the taller players from the shaded lane. A banger need not rebound, because as he pushes the bigger players outside the shaded lane, the other players can go for the rebound.
• Deadshot—although Gilas Pili-pinas had its own crop of outside shooters, no one came close to Adornado, Brown, Caidic or Engelland who sank two- and three-pointers with ease, including during crunch time.
• Off-passer—in a basketball game, it is usually the point guard who is expected to come up with big assist numbers. So when the ball is in the hands of a point guard, the opposing players usually harass him to avoid the ball getting into the hands of an open player. But with an “off-passer” who can also score, the opposing team will have to think double time as to who will pass the ball or score. A good example of an off-passer is Ramon Fernandez, acknowledged as the best cager the PBA has ever produced.
I just hope the next national cage team will definitely perform better in international meets. If that does not happen, how can we say that the PBA is relevant in the country’s quest for an international cage medal?