I told my good friend before the start of the game, that we should use Encho Serrano extensively in this game. I didn’t know, then, that he was nursing a flu. But WOW!!!! Well, let’s get back to this later.
This was the first game, I felt, that both strategy and execution were matched to the letter.
It initially started out, as I expected, with our bigs, Justin Baltazar and Santi Santillan, dominating. UE does have a couple of bigs in Bartolome (that dirty throat chopping player who victimized Bates and Dyke), and Acuno. Despite their size, however, they are not rim protectors.
Thus, both Balti and Santi, scored at least, our first 20 points of the game, exclusively. On the other side, Alvin Pasaol wanted to establish his game early (remember the first game when he was saddled with foul trouble and was too little too late when he dominated in the 4th?). So, it was Pasaol, Pasaol, and Pasaol for them, and, oh, paul varilla, with small caps, in between.
They did a good job initially on Aljun Melecio, with linebacker blitz hard doubles everytime the ball comes to him. That’s the reason for my Serrano comment to my friend. A slasher, against UE, is a lethal weapon. And a third for us. Remember, we have an inside game, and outside shooters. A slasher completes our offensive look (a role Ricci Rivero used to play for us).
And lo and behold, Batusai the Slasher, complete with guts, determination, a stonewall defense (2 steals right?), and the flu, found his game. And in perfect timing. The start of the second round, and before the Adamson grudge match (their grudge, not ours).
Don’t get me wrong please, but don’t jump and down in euphoria just yet. It was important that Serrano found his game, but understand that there was no Kouame, the second coming, coming after him, waiting for him up top yet. So, hope for the best, but it is a cause for celebration now that Serrano has now found his game.
Oh, let’s not forget Andrei Caracut here. After an article came out naming him as one of the players who haven’t lived up to their hype yet, well, hype has come.
Remember guys, that players respond diferrently to different coaches and systems, and Louie Gonzales is actually Andrei’s third coach. Third coach in a five year career. Wow. It’s good though, that this coach challenges him now, and he is responding well.
Ok, with an inside presence, an outside game, a now confident slasher, a hype realized, the same stingy defense (Captain Kib is back), and a team named the Pasaol Red Warriors, this is an easy game to analyze isn’t it? So, let’s not.
Instead, let’s go back to the process I wrote about in articles past. Well, the process is nothing more, than just ripening. Just like a mango, it can be eaten both raw and ripe. But it has different tastes at different stages, doesn’t it.
“Mukhang pahinog na tayo. Ang importante lang, hwag nating i hinog sa pilit at gamitan ng kalburo” (using Tagalog here empasizes in two short sentences, what I mean here. What a beautiful language we have).
Well, Serrano is ripening. Caracut is re-ripening (He was ripe under Juno, wasn’t he?), but more importantly, the TEAM is ripening. “At, hindi pilit” (beautiful language, really).
Remember that the team still doesn’t have Taane Samuel. If he gets his game back (“hwag pilit”), this is the team he will come back to. By that time, when we are ripe enough, the second coming of whatever and wherever, will get his coming.