Team Numbers Are Down

On: 13 February 2009

Omolon in Trouble

When the Sta. Lucia Realtors failed to defend their All-Filipino title in the just concluded PBA Philippine Cup, which the Talk N’ Text eventually won, many were wondering what really happened? Why was there a sudden reversal of fortune?

Cracks started to emerge in the vaunted Realtors offense when they failed to secure the services of a reliable big man in the 2008 Draft. There is nothing wrong with Kelvin Gregorio, their first round pick, but he is only a good third option in the power forward slot after Kelly Williams and Norman Gonzalez.

Even Chito Jaime, the second round draft choice, seems a little loss in the defensive rotation and cannot find his offensive rhythm on the floor. Not a few observers were surprise when Melvin Mamaclay, the previous year’s 2nd draft pick, performed better than Jaime by averaging 2 points and a rebound in just 3 games in the elimination round.

Ateneo Coach and former SLR mentor Norman Black was all praises for Jaime’s performance during his amateur stint that everyone thought he might be a steal in the draft. However, after 7 games and producing a measly 1.3 points and almost a rebound per outing, all hopes for an offensive reliever off the bench are gone.

Other teams started to take advantage of the Realtors' inability to get more points down low by doubling up on their perimeter shooters and rotating more to cover their guards. The result: a whooping 8-point reduction in the Realtors' output compared to what it was a year before.

During the 2007-2008 season, SLR managed to score an average of 94.7 points per outing during the elimination round. However, the team lost steam this season when it can only produce 86.4 points per game in the same round. It did not help that their shooting percentage from the 2-point area went down from 46.5 percent to 39.9 percent mainly because they rely more on their 3-point shooting than taking it strong to the hoop.

With only Dennis Espino scoring in the paint for the team, the guards had no choice but to take matters in their hands resulting to less number of assists and more turnovers than what they committed last year. The Realtors’ number of assists went down from 19.6 to 17.8 per game this year, while turnovers went up from 15.9 to 18.3 per game.

The Realtors fared better defensively this year after they were able to limit their opponents’ production to only 87.6 points per game, compared to last season’s 89.7 points.

However, with its guards expected to score heavily, hustle more actively and defend the perimeter more aggressively all at the same time, their reaction time suffered greatly. They failed to limit the opponents shooting ability beyond the rainbow area, which resulted to an increase in the other teams’ percentage from beyond the arc from 25.7 percent last year to 32.4 percent this season. The opponents were also able to rotate the ball more effectively as they average more that 18.0 assists per game against the Realtors compared to only 15.9 assists last season.

With the numbers down, it is no wonder anymore that the team failed to secure an automatic slot in the Semifinals, which could have given them ample time to rest and prepare effectively against their opponents. Nevertheless, all is not yet a total loss for the Realtors. The import-laden conference is just around the corner. If they can secure the services of a good rebounder and inside threat to make up for the so-so performance of Marlou Aquino, they could still make an impressive comeback.

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