Revising Player Expectations

On: 27 November 2009

Daa and Reyes

The Sta. Lucia Realtors were not able to defend their All-Filipino title last year after bowing to the eventual runner-ups, Alaska Aces. That season marked the first time the Realtors were considered as one of the top teams in the league. One suspects that the management's move to select Kelly Williams, Nelbert Omolon and Ryan Reyes from the previous year's draft was the main reason for the high expectation. And although veterans Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino injected a sense of urgency in the way the team executes, it was really the defense-oriented plays of coach Boyet Fernandez that bolstered the Realtor's chances each and every season.

This season, the Realtors started without Espino, who was traded to Coca-Cola Tigers, and point-guard Dennis Miranda, who found a new home with the San Miguel Beermen. So far they managed to scrape their way to 5 wins against three losses, just enough to keep them in the middle of the pack. Translating this number into possible wins produced in a 16-game wind-up shows us that the Realtors can get up to 8-9 wins, or just enough to barge into the quarterfinals. In short, the Realtors are not the same as the team that dominated and won the Philippine Cup two years ago.

Turning to the individual players, one can see immediately who was responsible for the SLR wins by looking at the numbers in the last seven games or so. The numbers did not include the non-bearing game against SMART-GILAS and the out-of-town loss to the San Miguel Beermen because the last one is still unavailable on-line. Leading the way is Williams, who averaged 17.9 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He also spends the most time on the floor among the players by averaging 35.29 minutes per game and took about 20.0 percent of the team's 2-pt shots.

Williams was not the only player in the Realtor's bench that produced above average numbers. Reyes, who spent most of the time last conference nursing an injury, averaged 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game. New acquisition, Gabby espinas, showed that he had slowly integrated himself with the team by averaging 12.3 points and 10.9 rebounds, joining Williams as the only Realtors to averaged double-double each game.

Joseph Yeo, is still showing some inconsistencies on the floor, but this does not negate his valuable contribution by averaging 10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. If he can just limit his 3.3 turnovers per game, the highest among the Realtors, he can be a force to reckon with.

The other Realtor that produced some significant numbers is Nelbert Omolon, who averaged 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. The only problem is that he needs almost 21:00 minutes a game to produce those numbers, whereas Reyes who spends 6:00 minutes more had a better production per minute. Also, Dennis Daa who spends half the time on the floor than Omolon, had a better average per minute, 8.9 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Of course there are a couple of surprises also, but knowing how Coach Fernandez can get the best out of his players, SLR die-hards are already expecting it. The first surprise came from an undrafted player named Josh Urbiztondo. He had one breakout game against Burger King last 30 October where he produced 24.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals that pulled his numbers up. He now averaged 5.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Unfortunately, these numbers were not sustained after that.

Jason Misolas, who came from Coca-Cola in what many thought was a lopsided trade involving Espino, has averaged 10.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in the last two games of the Realtors, against the Ginebra Kings and the Barako Bulls. He also shot 57.9 percent from the floor, the team's best.

Chris Pacana, a free-agent acquisition who was expected to stabilize the second unit in the absence of the injured Paolo Mendoza, was a disappointment. In the six games that he played so far, he can only manage to produce 1.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 turnovers for 10:00 minutes on the floor each game. In short, his points produced can be easily negated by committing those errors.

Fortunately, the Realtors can still count on their old reliable players and few new faces who were very efficient in producing the numbers given the limited playing they get. In fact, when the team’s current depth chart is closely scrutinized there is still a reason for hope in the team's chances for a Final's appearance.

First String

PG: Josh Urbiztondo - 5.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists

SG: Ryan Reyes - 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.3 steals

SF: Nelbert Omolon - 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds

PF: Kelly Williams - 17.9 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 1 block

C: Marlou Aquino - 3.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks

Second String

PG: Chris Pacana - 1.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists

SG: Joseph Yeo - 10.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists

SF: Jason Misolas - 3.7 points, 1.7 rebounds

PF: Dennis Daa - 8.8 points, 3.6 rebounds

C: Gabby Espinas - 12.3 points, 10.9 rebounds

Of these ten players, five are above average performers. If these players maintain this production, then the Realtors will not be one of the worst teams in the 2009-10 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) season. In fact, it's possible this team will challenge the San Miguel Beermen, Alaska Aces and Talk N' Text Phone Pals for an automatic semis seat.

Before Realtors fans get too excited, there are a few bumps on the road to this vision. For all this to happen ...
  • Williams and Reyes need to be healthy.

  • Aquino needs to reassert himself more on defense and be active in offense. If he wants to retire next year, then this is the best time to go out in style.

  • Unless Pacana can come in and be above average (not an unusual occurrence), Urbiztondo and Reyes will continue to play more minutes at the point.

  • Chito Jaime has to play and be productive as a small forward.
In sum, there are some issues that need to be resolved. But if these issues are resolved the Realtors will be better than expected.

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