I watched the SMB vs. Ginebra game last night and it was terrific. Anyone who reads this blog regularly (all 3 of you), knows very well that I find watching the PBA a chore and so therefore my watching is to be considered a feat in itself, let alone enjoying it. Last night, both were achieved, leading me to man up and say it out loud: That Game Was Terrific.
Of course, talking about the game will not be complete without mentioning the star of the show: Bonbon Custodio, erstwhile UE stalwart (and from which I remember him most), and now blossoming, if not already, into a crowd drawer and high flying hoop artist the likes of (I tremble when I say this) SMB Legend and the original Skywalker Samboy Lim.
Side Note: I have met many celebrities writing for a broadsheet back in the day, so I thought I knew better than to get nervous whenever I come across someone famous. But one day I was walking around Shangrila Edsa Mall with my GF when we saw Samboy himself riding up the escalator to where we were. So I got her to ready her digital camera so I can ask for a pic to be taken, and when he got off he saw us, smiled and looked like he was expecting to be approached. Lo and behold, I froze right in my tracks like a fool. I remember my girlfriend prodding me like a little child to go ahead, but my feet felt like concrete, my mouth was shut tight, my hands were frozen. He looked perplexed, and eventually left.
And that, sirs, is my brief and sad encounter with the man himself.
Pathetic situations aside, back to the subject at hand: Is Bonbon the next Skywalker? I will try to expound as I list down other observations of the game:
- It’s hard to tell from one game alone, but his stat line (from the sad pba website which doesn’t allow RSS subscriptions and therefore make it hard to follow), lists 12.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, in 23.5 MPG. Black marks though, include 40% FTs (I saw him miss crucial ones last night) and 2.5 TOPG, which may be attributed to the fact that he’s forced to play PG in the absence of Jonas Villanueva and Mike Cortez. From what I saw last night, his main strength is his ability to change direction quickly, and attacking the basket from the right shoulder, ending with his right. He makes up for his lack of height (5’11) with pumpfakes in mid – air and timely passes to teammates waiting in the wings when double – teamed. And by golly is he ever double – teamed.
Another weakness might have showed in Coach Jong Uichico’s decision to cover him with Willie Wilson in the dying seconds of the game, indicating that he recognizes Bonbon’s inability to score against bigger guards (he certainly made mincemeat of Macky Escalona when he was guarding him but then who doesn’t?). He wasn’t able to score, not even make a good pass, which made Helterbrand‘s inability to score when it came their turn a lucky break for them, up as they were by only a single point.
- Another item of note is Billy Mamaril’s exemplary play, topscoring for Ginebra with 22. Mind you, it’s tough going in there with the likes of Dorian Pena, Mark Pingris, Jay Washington and Danny Siegle patrolling the lane, so a good game from C/F Mamaril is especially impressive.
While this one was exciting, for the most part it’s still hard to read a PBA game. There are nice pick and rolls and occasionally good passing plays, but plays still seem to be centered on great individual effort. For example, each teams’ endgames strategy was basically a Custodio vs. Helterbrand shootout. It was exciting of course, but it isn’t very impressive to see the four other guys standing around waiting for their star to score.
For me, basketball is about setting up strategy that will find a way to fool the defense into giving you an uncontested (or as near uncontested as possible) shot. This requires teamwork where all individuals work together, the end result being a good shooter shooting an easy – as – possible shot.
What I saw last night was Custodio befuddling the defense with his amazing speed and agility. He’s terrific. He’s a star, and yes, he reminds me of Samboy Lim. He’ll be bringing in the crowds. People will be making stories about him (like I did with my own Samboy story above). Heck even I’d pay to watch the guy do his thing.
But he’s still just one guy.