Helpless Realtors

On: 09 December 2009

SLR Staff

Did the Sta. Lucia Realtors ever look this helpless against powerhouse teams last season?

Realtors' Believers know deep-down the answer to this question, but some will try to dismiss it by trying to appear optimistic and confident that something will change. These days, the thought of winning another All-Filipino title is playing above SLR fans' heads. The vicious beating that the team got from the Talk N' Text Phone Pals, the Alaska Aces and the San Miguel Beermen should be enough to dismiss any thought of another Finals appearance this conference.

Nearly third-quarter of the elimination schedule is gone and the team has so far only produced wins against slightly weaker opponents. The most legitimate challenger they faced so far and emerged victorious was Ginebra San Miguel. But against the top power triumvirate of the Phone Pals, the Aces and the Beermen, the Realtors appeared restless while sleeping. The worse thing is that no one knows if they will ever wake up from this nightmare before the conference ends.

All of the top three teams have a common denominator and all of them has definitely grown since the off-season. Simple analogy will tell any first-year high-school student that a legitimate 6-7 center is far greater than a 6-4 Gabby Espinas playing the same spot.

The Realtors will argue that they still have a 6-9 behemoth in Marlou Aquino, but they failed to see that the aging slotman cannot anymore hold the fort against the more bulky Ali Peek, Dorian Peña or the more agile Sonny Thoss. It was very obvious, but nobody seems brave enough to admit it yet.

The financial decision to let go of the more sturdy Dennis Espino in a trade with Coca-Cola a few months ago is coming back to haunt the SLR defense and burn their rotation down low. Now, the Realtors have become a shadow of a team that everyone feared two years ago.

This is the reason why it is imperative for the management to sacrifice again and let some of its non-performing assets retire, like Paolo Mendoza. The money they save can help attract a legitimate center that can close the talent gap between the Realtors and the top teams.

More than ever, size matters against the Phone Pals, the Aces and the Beermen. All of the three teams have centers that are all long, athletic, and can pass the ball. Espinas is athletic, but does not have extensive qualification to meet the other requirements. Sure Aquino is long, but sadly not anymore in the mold of his old self.

Without a formidable front-court aside from Kelly Williams could cripple any hopes the Realtors had of reaching the PBA Finals. Some pundits would tend to think that the SLR could settle into a better flow offensively anchored on Ryan Reyes and Joseph Yeo, but bear in mind that this is also true: having no legitimate center aside from Aquino who can defend and rebound against the opponent's big men is an obstacle that is very tough to overcome.

The Realtors could try to compensate their own mismatches with double-teams, but the other team's shooters will bury them from the outside just what the Beermen effectively did. Not only once, but twice.

This is what the other teams in the PBA wanted the Realtors to be: an easy picking for a healthy, hungry and growing-stronger-by-the-week opponents. Once again, all Believers need not look elsewhere for the solution. They just need to stare directly at the management's pockets.

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