Definitely Worth The Money

On: 01 April 2009

Aquino's Stats

For about 3 years now, fans of Sta. Lucia Realtors (SLR) noted that a number of expensive contracts signed by the team have not paid off. Included in their list were the expensive contracts paid to Marlou Aquino and Paolo Mendoza. Each of these players is either below average in 2007-08 production or has actually played very limited time. So at this point, one could have an issue with the nearly PhP 600,000 monthly guaranteed to these two.

According to the critics of SLR's quality of play, Aquino will definitely have the worst season of his career this 2008-2009 period after he turned 36 years old. Certainly Aquino’s scoring numbers are down, but his rebounds and blocked shots are up. And when one looks at the intimidation he brings under the boards, they will we see a small decline in the opponent’s respect from his rookie years.

During the All-Filipino Conference elimination rounds, Aquino averaged only 4.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and barely a block shot per game. Seven games in this import-laden conference, Aquino’s numbers more than doubled. He averaged 12.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocked shots per game. He made his presence more visible when he went against the 260-lb Rain or Shine import, Jai Lewis, and blocked 6 shots.

Mendoza's StatsA similar story is seen with respect to Mendoza. The 2001 first round draft choice may not be the streak-shooter that many expect him to be when he was still in the amateurs, but he has consistently been better (at least on a per-minute basis). His scoring understandably went down with the arrival of spitfire Ryan Reyes and defensive guard Dennis Miranda, but Mendoza is offering more.

Looking past scoring, Mendoza has improved with respect to shooting efficiency and assists. He used to average 5.8 points, 1.2 assists and 31.8 percent from the three points line, where he was supposed to reign, during the elimination round of the last conference. After seven games of the Fiesta Cup, Mendoza churned in 3.8 points, 2.0 assists and a whooping 50.0 percent from beyond the arc or 7 out of 14 attempts.

Looking at the 5-2 win-loss record of the Realtors, it is obvious what these two players mean to the team. Aquino has become the Realtors most productive local player even if he is not a scoring leader. Kelly Williams may have led the locals in points scored per game, but that is because he spent more time in the court than Aquino.

Also, not a few will agree that a great portion of the Realtors’ improvement this conference can be tied to the play of Mendoza. His point-production fell into below average territory when he stopped being a starter, but his 3-point sniping has kept the opposing team’s defense more loose and spread-out. This has allowed Anthony Johnson and Aquino more room to operate, while giving Nelbert Omolon more space to slash and drive to the basket.

In addition to Aquino and Mendoza, the Realtors are also getting an above average performance from Norman Gonzalez, Reyes and Miranda. Except for Gonzalez, each of these players joined the team in the middle of 2007 that helped them win last-year’s All-Filipino Cup title. Their play suggests that someone in the SLR management knows something about drafting and trading players. Then again, these same people selected Kelvin Gregorio in the first round of the 2008 draft. Except for one game last conference, Gregorio is turning out to be a below average PBA players, so maybe the Realtors still has some issues in its scouting department.

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