What the Realtors Missed from Reyes

On: 14 December 2008

Ryan Reyes

Ryan Reyes stretches his legs and looks out onto the game court. He sees what you see. Opportunity. Kelly Williams, the Sta. Lucia Realtors' franchise forward, finishes his patented tomahawk dunk against their finals tormentor in the 33rd PBA Philippine Cup, Purefoods Hotdogs last 11 December. Joseph Yeo, SLR's human sensation, hangs in the air to shoot 2-points as he single-handedly trimmed the 13-point deficit. The Realtor's other first-rate defender, Dennis Miranda, pressuring the opposing team's shooters for another defensive assignment.

Reyes also sees Kelvin Gregorio, a skilled forward, picked by the Realtors in first round of his year's draft. Norman Gonzalez, the Realtor's capable three-point shooting forward is giving the rookies valuable tips. Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino, both trying to turn back the wheels of time, pushing and jockeying against younger and athletic centers.

Never in Reyes' 2 PBA seasons has he had it this good. A complete roster, a seemingly perfect blend of talent and potential, experience and youth, for him to direct.

The Realtors have been skillfully constructed by their sharp, number-crunching GM, Buddy Encarnado. They are loaded and deep and everything one would want in their team are there. But always, it seems, they are just one snap, sprain or strain away from calamity.

Reyes will not deny this. He already missed most of the Realtors' games this season because of his back problems. Some guessed it will be at least another month before he can get to full strength. For now, he lacks his usual explosiveness and lift.

With Reyes and these Realtors, it is always best to add the qualifier. If Reyes' back does not give out. If Williams does not suffer another serious injury. If Aquino can just give out one last all-season worthy performance before retiring.

Reyes might say he has his good days and bad days, and who doesn’t? The good came on 3 December when he dropped 5 points and 5 steals, but still losing by a point against Rain or Shine. The bad? Last 22 October he finished with only 2 points in 26 minutes after attempting only twice from the floor in a win against Coca-Cola. It will be reported later that Reyes was bothered by some kind of a flu.

Reyes' excuses are legit, but they are excuses just the same. Even amongst the Realtors, they would tend to think that they could help him by not discussing his injuries and ailments so openly. During a game against the Rain or Shine, he appeared too spent up after the first two quarters, but he will not admit that. What PBA young star admits to being tired after one half when veterans Espino and Aquino are still eager to get back on court?

This is the Realtors’ curse. For all of their hope and potential, they remain supported by two fragile cornerstones. Williams has been erratic on the floor and is still working his way back after his eyes were accidentally poked during the first round of the elimination. Many of Reyes' problems are somehow connected, directly or not, to his troublesome back, which has led him to seek a dizzying variety of treatment options lately.

Trading for Yeo two years ago should lessen Reyes' and Williams' heavy lifting. That is what the Realtors hope, at least. Yeo is a pesky defender, but he is also adept at the other end of the floor, evidenced by the 38 points he scored against the San Miguel Beermen on 19 November when Reyes and Williams were unable to play.

The Realtors consider Yeo a low-risk, high-reward gamble. He was disgruntled at Coca-Cola and the Realtors gave him ample reason to behave. He even significantly helped the Realtors capture its first ever all-Filipino championship early his year. He also enjoyed some success already playing under coach Boyet Fernandez.

However, few Realtors appear capable of matching Yeo's energy and one of them is Reyes. With his absence, the Realtors are back to feeling each other out, and they will have to adjust some more once Reyes fully returns. For now, they have yet to find much of a flow offensively, unable or unwilling to share the ball as much as Fernandez hopes.

Unlike before, talent alone cannot carry a team past the semis anymore. Ginebra and Air21 has already exposed the weakness of the Realtors, but the season is far from over. Reyes will return. And despite their early struggles, the Realtors managed to defeat the two powerhouse, San Miguel Beermen and Alaska Aces.

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