Before releasing a new product, starting a business or making an investment, it’s good to take a step back and take a look at it more closely. A SWOT Analysis is a good tool to review the new venture. PBA rookies are a similar venture. So why not put them under the same microscope?
Alvin Pasaol enters the draft as arguably its most polarizing prospect. One side of the fence will tell you he’s a game-changer in the pros. The other will argue he has too many holes masked by his high-scoring explosions.
Whatever your opinion of Pasaol maybe, he’s still undoubtedly a talented prospect. By ending up with Coach Norman Black in the Meralco Bolts, Air Sambokojin gets the chance of a lifetime to get unlimited buckets with a chef that’s Grand Slam worthy.
Despite playing most of his collegiate career as the UE Red Warriors’ primary scorer, Pasaol’s shown he has the skills to be an effective role player at the professional level. Of course, it all starts with his scoring.
Pasaol is undoubtedly one of the best scorers in his draft. It all boils down to how complete his arsenal is. He doesn’t limit himself to isolations from the wings or post-ups. In UE, he played a lot as the roll-man when he was paired beside point guard Philip Manalang. With Letran in the PBA D-League, Pasaol played off the ball when asked to do so, scoring off the catch and cutting to the rim when need be.
He’s also shown impressive motor when crashing the offensive glass. He maximizes his girth by aggressively boxing out and he gobbles up rebounds as if his life depended on it.
He who controls the rebound controls the game. At the very least, aside from his scoring, Pasaol has that going for him as he steps into the pros.
Take note of my language in the previous section.
Shown he has the skills. Shown impressive motor. There’s a difference between showing impressive motor and having impressive motor. We’ve only seen flashes of these qualities.
Pasaol has the parts, but he hasn’t put it all together yet to convince us he can be a consistent winning influence in the 5×5 level. While he has won in the 3×3 level with the likes of Joshua Munzon, 5×5 is a different beast.
His biggest weakness has been his defense. His physical tools (short arms, thick trunks, lack of athleticism) don’t exactly scream elite modern defender. But even more concerning has been his inconsistent effort and penchant for gambling. He averaged 1.93 steals during his last season in the UAAP, but most of these came off gambles. He had the tendency of going for steals rather than quality stops. He also slept on some off-ball rotations. These did not help UE’s porous defense during his stint in Recto.
Pasaol’s passing has been subject to criticism as well. Despite commanding majority of UE’s possessions in the UAAP, Air Sambokojin never averaged more than two assists per game from Season 79-81. Granted, his teammates got good scoring opportunities when Pasaol would pass, but those were limited opportunities. There isn’t enough data to prove that he can become a good passer with higher volume.
Off the bat, Coach Norman Black already has an established role for Alvin. As per ESPN5’s Philip Matel, drafting Pasaol immediately helps Meralco’s need for bench scoring. He will most likely be Meralco’s sixth man.
This is the perfect role for him given the current state of his game. He’s a proven scorer who can put up points in a hurry, something Meralco’s been lacking for years now. It’s a simple task in a team that’s in dire need of buckets.
He is going to produce, in one way or another. His floor is relatively established already. But being coached by Norman Black allows him to expand his game to levels he probably never even expected. Chris Newsome evolved from elite second option to borderline main guy. Reynel Hugnatan’s game has aged beautifully, and part of that has to be credited to Coach Norman. There’s reason to believe Alvin makes a similar leap, starting with being Meralco’s primary option off the bench. Sooner or later, we might just see him as a starter, maybe even in the wing position if he sheds more pounds.
If he sheds more pounds.
As skilled as Alvin is, his weight grounds a lot of his potential. Diskarte and toughness can only get him so far. He’ll need to shed some weight and become quicker, so he can become a proper combo forward. At this point, he’s more of a tweener. That isn’t exactly a good thing.
His defense is still suspect and opposing offenses will likely attack this weakness of his. He can capably defend in the post using his heft, but quicker forwards and taller bigs can get around him with relative ease.
As good as he is on offense, he still needs to at least be a net-zero on defense so he can get heavy minutes under Coach Norman Black. Alvin has his work cut out for him. The floor is relatively high, but his talent can reach even greater heights if he puts in the work in developing his game.
Unli barbeque or unli playing time? If he wants the latter, he can’t just rely on getting unli buckets. With a dash of defense and a shot of consistency, he’s going to be a star in this league. Take those two ingredients out, Pasaol’s stock will likely dip in an instant.