Can the Realtors Still Run Hard?

On: 11 September 2009

Bench Support

The Sta. Lucia Realtors bolted from the gate in 2008 to win their first ever All-Filipino title at the expense of Purefoods TJ Hotdogs in a seven-game series. A year later, the 'Believe' slogan seems to have lost its luster as the team settled for a Third Place finish. Like Sam Eman, Lito Lapid's films and Erap's conviction, the cry of ‘Believe’ seemed so ‘last year’.

Is it simply that a new motivational concept was needed? Rally slogans like ‘We Are Family’ (1979 Pirates) ‘Ya Gotta Believe!’ (1973 Mets), ‘Reverse the Curse' (2004 Red Sox) each had a one year shelf life. Did 'Believe' quietly run its course?

It appeared as if the Realtors were pulling out all stops to get as high up the standings to try and get an automatic semis berth. Belching smoke and fire, near to ripping at the seams, the Realtors train click-clacked down the tracks at a speed that belied its condition. Coach Boyet Fernandez was stoking the engine with all the coal he could shovel in. Players, especially the remaining stars, were playing heavy minutes in an effort to keep speeding well above the posted limits in an effort to gain home court.

No doubt the Ryan Reyes injury was huge. Bench support was inconsistent. But the goal remained ‘win at all costs’, it seemed.

When Kelly Williams started to take more low-percentage three-point attempts that did not fall and less shots in the shaded lane, Fernandez properly downplayed the significance, yet did not down play the importance of inside presence. Defending their crown remained a goal, come heck or high water. One can only think that the 2007-08 finish could have inspired more innovative plays and active hustling from the veteran players. Sadly, it did not.

Ironically, the absence of Reyes in most of their games injury may have exacerbated the perceived need to press harder, which could have driven out their determination.

Seeing things as Fernandez saw them, all SLR fans would tend to think that he did a tremendous job. But there may be some who are wondering how different things might have been if Fernandez moderated the Realtors' mindset as he did in the 2007-2008 season, when defending a crown was not the big goal. Getting players worked in and getting a team to play together a certain way was the objective.

Fernandez had a choice to make. Continue to develop a bench that was experiencing difficulties or go with who brung you.

What if Fernandez tried to develop Chito Jaime, Dennis Daa, and even a bewildered Christian Coronel a bit more during that season?

This Season

This coming 2009-2010 season might be the better case to run for the top record even if the company is facing some financial difficulties. The bench is younger, faster and more set. The only unanswered questions are if Marlou Aquino or Paolo Mendoza can still help this team. Can Josh Urbiztonodo back up Reyes? Can Charles Waters offer something special aside from being Williams' brother-in-law? Who guards the opposing center when Aquino is out?

Kelly Williams

Should Doc reign in Kelly Williams just a bit from shooting those threes? Williams is still the league's most athletic bigman in the paint, but he doesn’t seem to unhook himself from that nasty habit of pulling those shots from beyond the arc even if he can only manage to shoot 23.66 percent during last-season's All-Filipino conference.

There is also a burden on Williams part to prove how healthy he is after contracting immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) last May – a blood disorder where blood platelet counts dramatically rise. There is a dance that Fernandez plays with this team and he often gives Williams a lot of latitude. How can Williams deal with the ambiguities of playing hard, but conserving enough for the long run?

This team have the talent and the toughness of mind to win games against opposing teams this season. Should they continue to use Williams for 38-40 minutes every game or give him the required rest for the long haul ahead?

In the last ten years, only Talk N' Text Phone Pals and Ginebra Gin Kings managed to win twice in the Philippine Cup. However, no team managed to win it twice in a row. Obviously, each year offers its own specific challenges.

This year there will be 3-4 other ‘superteams’. Because of that, would the Realtors pull out all stops to gain an outright entry to the next round? Or try to pace Williams' exposure on the floor, while strengthening the skills of the second unit players? The key really is turning the team to play their best ball each and every game, with no exceptions. The Realtors could run hard, but they should run at their own pace until they can sprint to the finish line.

0 comments on "Can the Realtors Still Run Hard?"

Post a Comment