Breaking Down the Finals

On: 11 February 2008

The Sta. Lucia Realtors are back in the PBA Finals since capturing the PBA Governors Cup in 2001 – the franchise's first and only title since joining the league in 1993. However, this is only the first time that they will contend in an All-Filipino Finals. And it’s great to see them in the Finals because they really worked hard to reach this point.

Aside from reaching their first All-Filipino Finals, this Conference has many first for the Realtors. They achieved their all-time franchise best eight-game win streak, a first outright semis berth, an all-time most 12 wins in the eliminations and a first-ever best-of-7 semifinal.

As they shoot for their only second Championship against the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants, let’s take a position-by-position look, with the Realtors listed first:

Point Guard:

Dennis Miranda vs. Roger Yap: Miranda is a true point guard, unlike R. Yap who is more of a shooter than a passer. However, unlike R. Yap, Miranda has been underrated as an all-around player, and most of his shots drop when his team needs a basket most. Meanwhile, R. Yap is not really a solid defender, but he has a variety of offensive arsenal, including perimeter shots. R. Yap can still snarl with the best of them, but Miranda has more athleticism and can contain his offense with a rugged stance. Edge: Realtors.

Shooting Guard:

Ryan Reyes vs. James Yap: Ryan Reyes will somewhat keep J. Yap busy on defense, especially in an open court, but J. Yap is far and away one of the only three guys who plays best in this position. Besides, J. Yap takes great pride in shutting down the other team’s top scorer. Plus, Reyes has to contend with his nagging tendonitis. Edge: Giants.

Small Forward:

Kelly Williams vs. Mark Pingris: With his long arms and skinny frame, Williams looks like the world’s largest praying mantis. And prey on opponents is exactly what he does, blocking shots and burying long-range jumpers. Pingris has appeared lost for much of the postseason, but like Williams, when he’s on his game there is little you can do about it, simply because he’s so athletic. The bottom line, however, is that Williams is more consistent than Pingris. Edge: Realtors, by a whisker.

Power Forward:

Nelbert Omolon vs. Jondan Salvador: Omolon is one of the league’s best perimeter defenders and has always used his athleticism to getaway from his guard down low, which would be enough to give Salvador a lot of fits. Salvador, meanwhile, is producing great numbers for the Giants in the semis in which he frustrated the his counterpart from Redbull. In other words, if Salvador can establish his low-post presence against Omolon in the game, then the Giants has an advantage. However, Omolon can explode anytime, especially in a tight game and he is not even expected to carry most of the load for the Realtors. Edge: Even.


Dennis Espino vs. Kerby Raymundo: Unlike Redbull’s Mike Hrabak, Raymundo will be facing a starting center who can easily defend an opposing player one-on-one. It makes you wonder if the Giants will isolate Raymundo against Espino or employ several pick-n-roll plays to get him free. Anyway, Espino is a great straight-up defender, but his low post positioning remains in question despite averaging 6 rebounds in their series against the Alaska Aces. The saving grace for Espino is that unlike the Purefoods-Redbull series, Raymundo will now be obligated to guard someone who can maneuver at the post and in their one-on-one match-up in the elims, Espino perform way better than Raymundo. Edge: Realtors.


Joseph Yeo can be the Realtors starting shooting guard, and is one of the league’s exciting players to watch in an open court or in making big shots on offense and being a major nuisance on defense. However, Yeo usually needs to get his confidence up first before you can expect that big things from him, including good shot selection. The Giants, however, have Peter June Simon, Chico Lanete, Brandon Cablay and Rommel Adducul who are the perfect role players. The Realtors will counter with veterans Marlou Aquino, Paolo Mendoza and Norman Gonzalez. However, if the Realtors’ bench fails to give their aging bodies good conditioning, this could be where the Giants will get most of their production. Edge: Giants.


Boyet Fernandez vs. Ryan Gregorio: Boyet Fernandez has done more with less than any man in PBA history, maybe with the exception of Yeng Guiao and Perry Ronquillo. If I were starting a team from scratch, with no players on the roster, I would hire Fernandez over Gregorio. I recently read an e-mail that said Fernandez’s role players have always come up big in the biggest games, and that’s very true. Gregorio, on the other hand, needs to Coach less since his team is fully-loaded with superstars. The Giants bench can even qualify as a starting unit for teams like Welcoat and Coke. Gregorio is a great, great coach; Fernandez is better. Edge: Realtors.

Bottom line:

After reading the above, you are probably assuming that I think the Giants will win a game or two. And you’re right -- I think the Giants will win one game, two if they are lucky because of their Finals experience. However, the Realtors own an edge in every other intangible. They also have extra motivation since it has been years since they reach the PBA Finals.

The Giants are a very good team with lots of superstars and potential MVP’s. They’ll put up a big fight, as the Realtors have not encountered a more boisterous fan base compared to their series with Alaska. But let’s face it, the Realtors have already beaten the Aces, and they’re at least as good as and experienced as the Giants, probably better. Prediction: Realtors in six.

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