In season opener, Barangay Ginebra showed just how good they can be

Ginebra 101 – Talk ‘N Text 81

Barangay Ginebra is arguably the most popular team in the PBA, but it’s been a long time since they’ve won a championship. Despite everything that has happened to franchise, them winning on opening day is a good sign of things to come.

In a game between two powerhouses, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, only one of them showed up last night.

Playing in front of a whopping 52,000 people (I would assume most of them are Ginebra fans), the upgraded TNT roster shrunk under the bright lights.

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The Texters looked slow, old, and just weren’t into the game. Despite being a squad with Jayson Castro and Larry Fonacier, TNT had trouble scoring. Maybe it was the defense of Ginebra, but there was also something oddly missing in the TNT offense. Hopefully this is just a minor setback for the team as they await the return of Gilas players Ranidel de Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag. Castro did have 19 points and Kelly Williams led TNT with 20, but it simply was not enough.

During the fourth quarter, there was one specific instance that TNT sorely missed the leadership of Alapag. When Castro had the ball at the top of the key, he had look in his eyes that said that he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Larry Fonacier set a pick, Castro passed the ball to Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Rosser then drove and passed it to Larry, and then back to Castro. As the shot clock wound down, nothing happened. Larry is a spot-up shooter, not someone who can shoot off the dribble, while rookie Rosser hasn’t shown his range from beyond the arc. Castro, as the point guard, didn’t know if he should score or pass. Hopefully when Alapag comes back, they will have more flow on offense.

As TNT struggled on offense, they did show a lot of positives on defense. Matt Ganuelas-Rosser is a tremendous addition to TNT. He’s a defensive stopper that can do multiple things on the floor. The dude was almost trying to block every single shot by Ginebra.  Fellow Gilas cadet Kevin Alas also contributed as he netted 10 points in his debut.

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TNT is a team that is looking for a new identity, especially with a new head coach at the helm, while on the other hand, Ginebra played liked the strong team many thought they could be. At first, they played like the Ginebra of old – a slow methodical team banking on the triangle offense system to save them, however, they started rolling once they settled in.

Joseph Yeo’s addition was critical to their offense. They put Yeo in several pick-and-roll situations and after the initial pick, Yeo found a shooter on the perimeter. The result was often a Mac Baracel triple. It was a consistent theme whether it was Yeo or LA Tenorio getting in the lane as Baracael kept stroking, tallying 16 points.

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When there were missed shots, there was Japeth Aguilar or Greg Slaughter waiting for the rebound. The guards were clicking, the shooters were knocking it down, the big men were dominant, and most importantly, they were able to get the crowd right behind them. Aguilar had a monster game with 18 points, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks, including one on Rosser that sent the Ginebra crowd into a frenzy. Slaughter was also huge (literally and figuratively) with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

This was the team that head coach Jeff Cariaso envisioned. And if they play like this against the top teams like Purefoods or Rain or Shine, that title drought could finally be snapped.


Photos by Nuki Sabio / PBA Images