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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PBA: Ginebra and San Miguel - now worlds apart


Ginebra moves up. San Miguel slides down. It feels like an aberration. Like the PBA mistakenly slithered through a breach in the Matrix. Is this what parity feels? The Gilas interlopers are undefeated.

And San Miguel, for the first time in eons, is in a 1-win and 5-loss quagmire. I'm not used to this. Should we get used to this?

I'm 200% sure San Miguel doesn't. It's just not their style. Rebuilding from scratch, languishing at the bottom, doesn't sound like San Miguel. Yet reinforced conferences are quirky that way. The reinforced conference is the PBA's great equalizer.

A so-so team recruits a super import and, suddenly, they can compete. A super team (especially one reconfigured by a big trade) stumbles with so-so imports and, unexpectedly, they stagger. Even San Miguel isn't immune to this.

Meantime, Ginebra is on a three-game winning streak. They're in third place at 4-2. If Mark Caguioa didn't sound too happy with the way they won their first three games, he certainly sounded pleased with the way they defeated San Miguel last Sunday. Ginebra ran, chased loose balls, scored off turnovers, played with a different zing. Even with many clumsy sequences, Ginebra's win over San Miguel was riveting theatre.

Why? Because cameras somehow love poker-faced Nate Brumfield. Brumfield, who tallied 33 points and 12 rebounds against San Miguel, is chunky but mobile; a Hummer which can spin, a bronze statue which can maneuver around the basket. When scientists combined the DNA of Willie Miller and Ali Peek, the result was Brumfield.

If Brumfield is the muscle of Ginebra's operation, Caguioa is its most volatile spokesperson. And cameras always like him. Mark wants to be seen and heard. If you've seen Brumfield during television interviews, you'll know he's more a doer than a talker. Caguioa has always been both. He represents what Ginebra was.

He vocally represents what Ginebra should be. He says Ginebra should play more run-and-gun, like how "old" Ginebra teams used to. He says Ginebra should play more exciting ball. He says they should bring the fans back.

Will one win erase Caguioa's discontent? Maybe. Will his 17 FG attempts against San Miguel (most among ALL locals for the game) ease his discomfort? It probably will.

Yet despite Caguioa's complaints, Ginebra is in contention. San Miguel is in a deeper conundrum. The Beermen don't even have a Caguioa who can verbalize their cause. They're busy tinkering with a new-look line-up; one which doesn't have the outside shooting of Dondon Hontiveros or the instant offense of Danny Seigle.

They're about to try a third import. They're about to face what other teams have long gotten used to; the specter of elimination. I can't believe I'm saying this about San Miguel. But this is what the PBA looks like in a parallel universe. Where Gilas is on top. Where Ginebra still thrives under bizarre circumstances. Where San Miguel has nowhere to go but up


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