Reversal of Roles

On: 21 October 2008

Dennis Espino and Ryan Reyes

Dennis Espino and Ryan Reyes were known for their aggressive rebounding and pinpoint passes respectively when they were still in the amateurs. Espino, in particular, was the number one rebounder for the University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers when he steered them to a rare four-peat championships in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Basketball in the early 90’s.

Meanwhile, the 6’2” Reyes was the primary assists man when he played with the Super Sealers in the season ending conference of the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) in 2006. He was even touted as pass-first-shoot-later guard when he was drafted by the Sta. Lucia Realtors in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) 2007 Annual Draft.

However, when the two joined forces to help the Realtors capture the much coveted 2007-2008 PBA Philippine Cup at the expense of Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants, things started to change. The 6’6” Espino became an offensive decoy who usually waits for the double team to gang up on him before issuing timely assists to the cutting players. Reyes, on the other hand, became a low-post threat for the other team’s guards and used his athleticism, timing and height to out-position the other player to get those rebounds.

The transformation is not that visible to the viewers that time since Espino only average almost 2 assists for the whole conference, while Reyes only 6 rebounds. These new roles only became more evident at the start of the 2008-2009 PBA Philippine Cup as the Realtors try to defend their crown.

After 3 games, Espino emerged as one of the league leaders in assists, 5 per game. He issued a game-high 9 assists in their win against Talk N’ Text last 12 October 2008. It was also a game where he almost had a triple double, 8 points and 9 rebounds.

Reyes, who is usually known for his hustle plays, became more of a scoring threat (15.0 ppg) and a rebounding guard (9.3 rpg). Reigning MVP Kelly Williams leads the team with 13 rebounds per ball game.

As teams beefed up their line-up and fortify their benches, the Realtors will continue to rely on their veterans and younglings who know that flexibility to adjust to specific situations is a vital strategy to distort their opponents’ plays. This is what Espino and Reyes are doing and, hopefully, it can help the team successfully defend their all-Filipino crown.

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