Sunday, March 5, 2017

#FIBAAsia2017: The next great Asian point guard

Image from FIBA.
*This first appeared on my weekly column on FIBA.com.

Ever since taking Asia by storm in 2013, Jayson Castro of the Philippines has been hailed as the best point guard in Asia. He was named to the All-Star Five of both the 2013 and 2015 editions of the FIBA Asia Championship and has held his own on the world stage against NBA-caliber talents like JJ Barea and Tony Parker.



The Filipino superstar known as The Blur, however, isn't getting any younger (he turns 31 in June). In fact, he earlier announced his retirement from international basketball after the Philippines were eliminated in the FIBA OQT 2016 in Manila, but he returned to the Gilas Pilipinas national pool after former head coach Chot Reyes returned to the helm. Given Castro's age, though, the wear and tear he absorbs from the 11-month-long PBA season has taken a bit of a toll. A recent hamstring injury will actually sideline the Pampanga native for several weeks before he returns to on-court action, and he may not even be 100% when he does.
Read more ...

#FIBAAsia2017: Ravena available for Gilas if needed

Image from FIBA.
*This first appeared on FIBA.com.

The current Gilas Pilipinas national pool is chock-full of talent and star power, but one of the players whom many Filipino basketball fans wish to see finally debut on the FIBA Asia stage is none other than the young man nicknamed "The Phenom" - Kiefer Isaac Ravena.

Donning an actual Gilas Pilipinas jersey and playing for the Philippines in this year's FIBA Asia Cup would be a tremendous feather in Ravena's cap, especially considering his decorated status as one of the most celebrated players to recently come out of the Philippine collegiate scene.
Read more ...

#FIBAAsia2017: Should Bahrami and Kamrani return to Iran's national team?

Image from FIBA.
*This appeared on my weekly column on FIBA.com.

Iran did well in 2016, winning the FIBA Asia Challenge that was held on home soil. That was a great way to bounce back from their debacle in the FIBA Asia Championship 2015, where Team Melli missed out on a berth in the Final and had to settle for third place behind the Philippines and eventual champs China.

Last year, Iran saw a number of rising stars finally take center stage. Foremost among these was Behnam Yakhchali, a combo guard who has good enough handles to spot minutes at point guard while also possessing the size and shooting touch to be a really effective shooting guard. He normed around 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 3 triples per game in the FIBA Asia Challenge. Yakhchali's wing partner, Mohammad Jamshidi, also shone, averaging 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as Iran took home the top prize in the biennial joust. They went unbeaten in eight games, winning by an average of 32.3 points. Needless to say, their big man in the middle, Hamed Haddadi, was also unstoppable, putting up 18.0 points and 13.8 boards per contest while young frontliners Mohammad Hassanzadeh and Arsalan Kazemi also did a lot of damage.
Read more ...

#PBA2017 Philippine Cup Finals Roundup: March 5, 2017

Image from the PBA.
The starting five of the San Miguel Beermen dominated in Game 5 to annex the PBA Philippine Cup title for the third year in a row! In effect, the Beermen are the recipients of the PBA's perpetual trophy, and they are only the second team to achieve a Philippine Cup 3-peat after Talk N Text did it from 2011 to 2013. 

Game Capsules: 

SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN over BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS, 91-85
Box Scores. 

The San Miguel Beermen clinched a rare PBA Philippine Cup three-peat after claiming victory over Barangay Ginebra, 91-85, in Game 5 of the Oppo PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos each scored 21 points on a combined 15-of-22 FG shooting to lead San Miguel, which had to stave off a late rally from the never-say-die Ginebra quintet.
Read more ...

Friday, March 3, 2017

#PBA2017 Philippine Cup Finals Roundup: March 3, 2017

Image from the PBA.
June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross came up big anew for the San Miguel Beermen as they asserted their authority in Game 3 to move within a win of the title in the 2016-2017 PBA Philippine Cup Finals!

Game Capsules: 

SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN over BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS, 94-85
Box Scores. 

The San Miguel Beermen again got off to a scorching start before holding off a second half rally to clinch another victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 94-85, in Game 4 of the Oppo PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter each scored 20 points on better than 60-percent shooting to lead San Miguel, which took a comfortable 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Read more ...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

#PBA2017 Philippine Cup Finals Roundup: March 1, 2017

Image from the PBA.
The San Miguel Beermen bounced back from a Game 2 loss by frustrating the Ginebra Gin Kings in Game 3 of the 2016-2017 PBA Philippine Cup Finals!

Game Capsules: 

SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN over BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS, 99-88
Box Scores. 

The San Miguel Beermen surged ahead in the Oppo PBA Philippine Cup Finals after getting a strong performance from PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo to beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 99-88, in Game 3 on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Read more ...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

#PBA2017 Philippine Cup Finals Game 3 Preview: Can San Miguel bounce back?

Image from the PBA/Inquirer.
*This also appears on PBA.ph.

The difference between Games 1 and 2 of the 2016-2017 PBA Philippine Cup Finals was like night and day. Unlike in Game 1, Ginebra did not start flat in Game 2. Tim Cone's wards were, by far, the more aggressive team early on, but for all their bravado and energy, the Gin Kings weren't able to convincingly get rid of the Beermen. Ginebra needed an extra period to stave off the defending champs. 

So now that we have Game 3 looming, the big question is can San Miguel Beer bounce back and retake control, or will Ginebra capitalize on their momentum to notch a 2-1 series lead.
Read more ...

#PBA2017 Philippine Cup Finals: Kraken is key for SMB

Image from the PBA/Inquirer.
*This also appears on PBA.ph.

Where June Mar goes, SMB goes. That's just how it is for the defending champion, three-peat seeking, perpetual trophy hungry San Miguel Beermen. 

Offensively speaking, June Mar has struggled a bit against the Kings this conference — and that's without Greg Slaughter, too! In three games against Ginebra, the Kraken has averaged just 12.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per outing, which is much lower than his conference averages of 19.3 points and 14.8 boards per contest. He is still capable of being productive, sure, as he showed in Game 1, but, somehow, he just cannot dominate the Kings as well as he can most of the other PBA clubs. 
Read more ...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

#PBA2017 Philippine Cup Finals Roundup: February 26, 2017

Image from the PBA/Inquirer.
Ginebra drew level in the 2016-2017 PBA Philippine Cup Finals after holding off San Miguel Beer in overtime of Game 2!

Game Capsules:

BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS over SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN, 124-118 (OT)
Box Scores. 

The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings got a huge buzzer-beater from Joe Devance to force overtime before taking care of business in the extra period as they outlasted the defending champion San Miguel Beermen, 124-118, in overtime of Game 2 of the Oppo PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City, Quezon.
Read more ...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

#PBA2017 Philippine Cup Finals Roundup: February 24, 2017

Image from the PBA/Inquirer.
The 2016-2017 PBA Philippine Cup Finals kicked off with a purr as the San Miguel Beermen completely dominated the Ginebra Gin Kings in Game 1!

Game Capsules: 

SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN over BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS, 109-82
Box Scores. 

The San Miguel Beermen overwhelmed Barangay Ginebra early before cruising to the comfortable finish as they downed the Kings, 109-82, in a lopsided Game 1 of the Oppo PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Read more ...