I was a very active basketball blogger for most of 2005 ~ 2013 and when you write and think about basketball as much as I did there’s one guy you write and think about a lot about and that is Kobe Bryant. In and around that period which happened to coincide with the rise of YouTube and social media he would win 5 NBA Championships, numerous all star, nba 1st teams, defensive teams and all sorts of fantastic accolades. As such he wasn’t only on my mind but pretty much anyone who followed sports. Within that period Nike invited me to cover two of his visits in the Philippines the 2nd of which in 2011 was a special event to remember. Fans from all over converged onto BGC and Araneta to catch a glimpse. It was so special even veteran event organizers were stunned at the scale. I wasn’t just jostling for position with local press, there were people from Agency France Press, CNN, Chinese, Indian and Taiwanese press all occupying what little space we had to get a good shot.Continue reading “Kobe”
Yes, yes I know, it has been weeks since I last wrote on this blog. Yes, I know I can always say ‘I’m busy.’, but hey I’ve always been busy.
Having said that, why then have I come back with a headline saying Fire Isiah and his picture afterwards? Well let me count 2 ways: a.) Exactly one year ago give or take a few hours, I made a post entitled For the love of God, Get Rid Of This Guy, and guess who I’m talking about?! That’s right, Isiahzilla himself. b.) I am a Knicks Fan. Have been, has always been. And a year ago I thought he couldn’t do worse. Now a year after, he has proven me dead wrong. He’s not only done worse, he’s given a whole new meaning to the word.
The problem with watching the Spurs – Mavs game this morning was that it was on at the same time as Jamie Oliver‘s reality show Jamie’s Kitchen, which after seeing a two episodes of, and not even complete ones at that, has become to me the best reality show there is even if it was done almost 5 years ago.
At any rate, shuffling between Basketball TV and the Lifestyle Channel I got the most part of the game which I was determined to watch as part of my own personal ‘DirkWatch’, which I have even created a category of on this blog. Yes denizens and kabillions of fans of Ballex, I am now going to try and watch the travails of my favorite – to – do – something – special – player – this – year, 2006-2007 NBA MVP (with a virtual asterisk) Dirk Nowitzki. Note however, emphasis on ‘try’, as just like anything I have to find time for it, and when I say ‘find time for it’ I mean when I turn on the TV and it’s there, plus if I don’t have anything more pressing to do and my nieces and nephews aren’t trying to grab the remote from me, I will watch the game. That’s professional NBA coverage right there!
So anyway, on to the game:
The Mavs started out on a house on fire and it showed everywhere. In their body language, in the crowd (they were at home), in their uptempo playoffs level style of play and finally, in the score, scoring 33 points against the Spurs measly 19 in the 1st quarter alone.
From that point onwards it was downhill for the Spurs. Other than Manu Ginobili’s usual spectacular heroics (he’s doing very well this year at 19.9 pts a game starting off the bench), I can’t really remember anything special to say about the Spur’s 1st half and early parts of the 2nd (after which I took a break to answer some emails and make phone calls).
If in case you haven’t noticed (I know I didn’t), the NBA is underway. I suppose the reason why I didn’t realize it was on, even if I managed to catch the very first (Spurs* vs. Blazers) and some parts of the second (Rockets* vs. Lakers), was because of all of the pre-season games shown over and over Basketball TV, so much so that you tended not to pay too close attention anymore.
Then when I realized the crowd was pretty big, plus the fact that the games were actually non – yawners, did I finally realize – hey, I think the season has actually started.
At any rate enough with the long introduction – here again are a few things that got into my head as I watched the first few games, and even now with game going on as I write this (Dallas vs. Cleveland).
- The guy that I most want to do well – has got to be Dirk Nowitzki. Even as I watch him now – (he’s brilliant btw, and looks like he’s off to his old self with those brilliant jumpshots of his) – I have to wonder what in the hell went through his mind when he choked last year. And make no mistake about it, that was a choke. A very bad one, in front of the whole world to see, and when it counted the most. It is easy, I realize now, to just get angry at him and mouth what his coach said, which is that ‘I never lost faith in myself’, but can we really begin to comprehend the pressures that a person goes through when competing at the very highest level of their discipline? I left it at that for most of the year, but when I read this article, where it says not a single NBA GM has voted him to repeat as MVP this year, then that has got to sting more than anything. As such, Dirk has got my vote. By virtue of the GM’s lack of confidence in him, making him an underdog (and of course since I’m Pinoy I always prefer the underdog), I want Dirk to succeed. So please Dirk. Go back to Germany and find whatever it is that had made you so good to begin with. Take as many Australian tours as you need. Do everything you gotta do. Just win MVP one more time and make everyone believe in you again, ok?
The Philippines finished the Jones Cup with a 5-4 win-loss slate and a third place finish. Hardly an accomplishment considering that nine years ago, the RP Centennial team brought home the bacon. The team still has a lot of work to do but you gotta like the progress they made over the last few weeks. They’re still in the running for an Olympic slot but they will face strong competition from Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Jordan. Judging over their Jones Cup performance, the problem with the team is their inability to defend on the post, and inability to get the rebounds. We need more athletic big men on the team (or emphasis on “gang rebounding”) to be able to accomplish our goals. We didn’t have problems with shooting, scoring, and perimeter defense since our guards have shown that they’re up to task, and have displayed remarkable ability to blow by people. So who makes the cut and who does not? Below is my own personal evaluation on who makes the final 12.
Asi Taulava – If not for Asi, we’re probably dead meat. Asi’s boardwork, post defense and intangibles is giving us hope that we can play up to par against the bigs from Jordan, Iran, Lebanon and China. Asi is terribly outmatched in terms of size and athletic ability against Asia’s top big men but he is trying his darnest best to level the competition.
Kelly Williams – He impressed a great deal of observers with his sterling play in the Jones Cup. He gives the team an athletic flavor at the 3 spot. Rebounding and defense is what he brings to the table. Needs to improve perimeter shooting.
Dondon Hontiveros – he’s blamed for RP’s two harrowing losses in the recent Jones Cup but make no mistake about it, this guy can play on both ends of the court. What the coaching staff likes about him is that he can only not score, but also plays hard on the defensive end and can bring the ball down.
Terrific three point shooting plus inside execution by the Khazaks did the RP team in, with RP Coach Chot Reyes saying he felt this would happen after RP’s game against Qatar the day previous. Although RP won that game, Coach Reyes felt that since the team’s losing an 18 point lead around the 2nd half foretold of worse things to come.
“I saw it coming, from the second half of yesterday’s game … I saw this coming. It was very disappointing,” he said. “I tried to remedy it by having practice this morning, but they had mentally checked out of this tournament.” Here’s a video of proceedings in the 3rd quarter:
Kazakhstan continued its dominance of the RP team, routing the nationals 107-90 in the 29th William Jones Cup men’s basketball tournament in Taipei. The Kazakhs are now 4-0 against the Philippines dating back to the Busan Asian games. The RP team finished the tournament 5-4 W-L tied with 4 others: US (Athletes In Action), Iran, Korea and Chinese Taipei (host) but grabbed 3rd place by virtue of a superior quotient and having beaten all four teams. Jordan (7-2) and Lebanon (6-3) wound up, 1st and 2nd, respectively.
The RP team’s sluggish performance so infuriated head coach Chot Reyes that he went straight to the team bus instead of the usual post-game huddle with his players, after the game.
â€œI saw it coming since the second half of yesterdayâ€™s game against Qatar. I tried to remedy the situation by practicing early this morning,â€ said Reyes. â€œKazakhstan is a good team. Weâ€™ve had a bad record against them. I donâ€™t mind losing to them but not this way. This is unacceptable,â€ he added, obviously disgusted with the team’s lack of effort on the floor.
“They (the nationals) are confined to the barracks tonight. Nobody visits them. Lights out at 10.”
The team allowed the Kazakhs to score 16 of 44 from behind the arc. The RP team’s gunners, on the other hand, couldn’t keep pace, turning cold (shooting a dismal 9 of 36 or a 20% success rate).
The game was actually nip and tuck at the beginning, with the nationals holding a slim 22-21 advantage at the end of the first quarter. James Yap, who went 1-of-2 from the three-point area, suffered a sprained left ankle after a bad fall with 5:01 left in the second quarter. Yap, who was celebrating his wedding anniversary with TV personality Kris Aquino, was carried out of the court by Asi Taulava. The nationals stretched their lead to six, 40-34, 3:59 left in the 2nd but a 12-2 blast by the Kazakhs put them on the driver seat 46-42. Jay-jay Helterbrand closed out the half by hitting one of two free throws, 43-46.
It was a see-saw affair until the end of 3rd with the Kazakhs only holding a four-point edge at the end of third 76-72 but a 12-2 bomb at the start of the final quarter by the Kazakhs put the game away 88-74. The nationals did not recover after that.
KAZAKHSTAN 107 – Y. Rustam 28, P. Anton 23, T. Alexandr 12, Y. Issakov 11, Y. Mikhail 10, S. Andrey 10, K.Dimitriy 7, B. Yegor 6, N.Ivan 0, S. Artyom 0, M.Voyeikov 0, G. Dimiriy 0.
PHILIPPINES 90 – Caguioa 24, Alapag 21,Hontiveros 14,Williams 13, Helterbrand 5, Taulava 3, Yap 3, Ritualo 3, Menk 2, Raymundo 2, de Ocampo 0, Pennisi 0.
Quarterscores: 21-22, 46-43,76-72,107-90
TeamPilipinas’ win over the taller and more athletic Qatar would have been sweet if it were not for the fact that at one point in the second quarter, Team RP had a 21 point lead, only to blow it all and lead by just 8 in the end, 88-80.
Coach Chot Reyes was so infuriated over his team’s early celebration and consequent lapses that he was slapped two technical fouls and ejected from the game with 30 seconds left, 62-49. Calling the loss of focus ‘unacceptable’, he lambasted his players ‘to wake them up’. “It was more of wanting to wake up my players“, Reyes said. “Nakita ko na sa body movements nila while warming up at the break na nawala na ang focus, to allow Qatar to outscore us 14-2 at the start of the third is unforgivable.”
Qatar however, although coming close several times failed to complete their comebacks due to bad execution and over – complaining to the referees. Here’s the last minutes of the 4th:
Scores and Quarterscores after the jump:
Yet another terrific win came TeamPilipinas’ way last night, this time by a more comfortable margin, ending the contest at 82-64. The RP team led by 20 points twice over the host team, with an evidently large Filipino local contingent helping every step of the way by providing much needed noise to counter Taiwan’s home advantage.
Unfortunately, local viewing of the game was cut off to make way for F1 coverage. Here are the last few minutes of the 4th quarter (again from the excellent xeonfire07), just after Taiwan’s Lin CC’s 3 successive 3 point shots chomped down the lead to just 11 points.
Individual and by quarter scores after the jump:
Yup, our RP team won again last night against a favored Iranian team, an important victory that helps gauge our readiness for *gasp* the Olympics. And I put *gasp* because, sure it might make me seem like a traitor or something, but it still shakes me a little when I put the words RP Team and Olympics in one sentence. But here’s the scoring by quarters from last night, serving as proof positive (to the dwindling doubters like myself) that it can happen:
Phi 19 32 17 21 Final: 89
Irn 24 22 16 17 Final: 79
and here’s the vid from the last few minutes of the 4th: