All Ball

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tim Duncan Let Me and Eva Down

True. All the girl could talk about on Oprah and Letterman was her beloved Tony and his Spurs (ehem, not that "spur" if you know what I mean). And I, for that matter, was counting on a back-to-back. I had all the reason in the world to feel confident about it, I mean the team added Finley and Van Exel, subtracted only bit players in their bid for a repeat. How could that have possibly gone wrong? Simple. Tim Duncan let me down. The guy had the ball several times during the clutch when winning was within his grasp but he either shot an awkward-looking semi-hook at one game, or didn't get up hard enough for a follow-up after an offensive rebound on a buzzer-beating, waning moments, occasion on another game. Disbelief, I'm sure, overcame those who counted on the Big Fundamentals to bail out the Spurs. And now it's all over for them, props to the Mavericks for putting the Spurs in place. Now on to...

...the Phoenix Suns. "Small ball" is slowly taking over the pro game. If one would look closely, teams are scampering all over the court in souped up tempo trying to outscore one another, playing more like the Suns and less like the Pistons and Spurs. Granted that they won't reach the Finals this year, watch out when Amare comes back in full health. I can't wait...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Down to 8

UCLA came back from 17 down to beat Gonzaga (John Stockton's alma mater) and barge into the Elite 8 vs. No. 1 seeded Memphis. It was a heartbreaking loss for College's top scorer Adam Morrison, who was in tears after the loss. Whether he'd turn pro or play in his senior year is still up in the air. He's 6-8, a bit slow but a good ball-handler, and can shoot the ball like Dirk, ehem, and many experts consider him a lottery pick. Hmm...Surely New York and Orlando are watching him closely.

In other games: No. 1 Duke went down to LSU (Shaq's alma mater); Texas beat upstart WVU on a 3-ball at the buzzer

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Madness is The Method

US NCAA's March Madness is upon us. While this type of hit-or-miss, sudden-death tourney appeals to the purest of sports fans, I imagine how it sends gamblers into fits. Here, rankings don't mean squat. Great teams can't afford an off-night. And marquee players have little room for mistakes---think Chris Webber's timeout fiasco in '91. Forty minutes is all you have, enough time for a little-known college to 1-up a big university and its, ehem, much revered, million-dollar, athletic program. There are no second chances, only crying and agony, and choking and more crying, and it's all good. With titles such as the saccharine "Sweet 16", the snobbish "Elite Eight", the iconic "Final Four", what's not to love? Let the games begin...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Big Pennisi

Pennisi! What a time for him to explode!

Haha. I just had to say it. Sorry.

Mick Pennisi came up big with two straight threes to help Red Bull Barako pull away from the Purefoods Chunkee Giants midway through the fourth.

The Giants rallied, but James Yap flubbed a breakaway layup with 40 seconds remaining which would have cut down the Barakos’ lead to two. The score was 77-73. With half a minute remaining, the normally atrocious free throw shooter, Enrico Villanueva made two of two free throws to seal the win and the championship.

The game was witnessed by around ten thousand fans.

Okay. While watching the game, I was waxing sentimental. I don’t know if it’s just me, but weren’t the PBA games more exciting way back when? Way before I could palm my first ball, I was already watching Brown and Caidic (Great Taste) shoot their way to a championship. (They did win a championship, didn't they?)

I mean, forget about Kobe’s 81, I was watching when Paul Alvarez scored 70. He was dunking and windmilling his way to the hoop. That was before he got shot in the ass, which led to a decline in his skillz.

I don’t know what the ass has to do with leaping ability, but if Paul Alvarez became earthbound because of that, man, it has got to mean something.

Back then- which isn’t that far off, we’re talking up to the ‘90’s here- Philippine Basketball made the Filipino dream. Before Pacquiao, there was Jaworski. Okay, forget about Jaworski, the way we’ve forgotten about his stint at the Senate. (Must have been a bad dream. And I think I'm still dreaming now.) Before Pacquiao, there was Mama Mamaril, and Dondon Ampalayo, and Rudy Distrito. (Okay, I'm a very biased Ginebra fan. But who else was there to recall? Wink wink.) Wow. Who do we have now who can even be a pale comparison? I don’t really know; and that I’m not in that kind of mood to know should tell me something. And anyway, the answer really is: nada, zilch, nothing, zeero, uh-uh, go home funky boy and add 1 to negative 1 because that's the answer.

I’m really not sure why the PBA has seen its ratings taper off over the past few years. You could maybe explain it with NBA Live. Sure. Maybe. But the NBA hasn’t seen its ratings dive down as steeply as the PBA’s. So maybe it’s the players that are the cause. My thesis is this, and I'm not quite sure whether I purloined it off of LK's blog or SMS's sometime from the recent past or not (I probably did, but she can't prove it. Hah!): the PBA is personality-driven. The PBA ratings are going down d o w n d o w n down because the PBA players today have no personality whatsoever.

I mean, look at Jawo. He was mean, man. He kicked ass hard enough for the league to suspend him for life before his PBA days. Rudy Distrito- the last I heard of him, he was being accused for murder. Dondon Ampalayo? Man, I love hearing his name on the tube. Makes me think of ampalaya (bitter gourd), man, which must be been the reason why I’m so into it.

And Mamaril? Woooo. Tall skinny man. Makes you want to watch the game just to see if he'll fall apart at the joints or not.

Wow. Those were the days.

So today, I'm planning to help the PBA regain its personality by starting with my main man, MIck.

(Back to the present.) The Barakos just showed the Giants who had the bigger Pennisi.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Winter Olympics, The Equator, and That Feel-Good Underdog Sports-Movie

A side-step...

If you happen to live in a country situated near the Equator you probably don't give a rat's ass about the Winter Olympics that is currently being held in Torino, Italy.. With headline events such as down-hill skiing and ice hockey it's no surprise why the sun-tanned could care less.
It's also no surprise that warm weather countries are at least represented, in spite of the so-called inherent racism found in these games.

We've seen "Cool Runnings", and some of us have gone ice skating at one time or another in an SM rink, so we know anything is possible with man-made snow. Producing a world-class ice skater from a warm-weather nation isn't the underdog story it once was. What makes news are injured down-hill female skiers (four to be exact) who crashed while training on hazardous slick artificial snow (assembled due to diminished snow fall this year). Some of them bravely "returned to the slopes that ate them up". Also, glorified figure skater, Michelle Kwan makes the headline now that she's near the end of her storied career.

The Real MVP

Most people would agree that the local PBA is mediocre entertainment, but only a few would say that it's bereft of drama. In a post-game interview last night, Chunkee Giants' Kerby Raymundo (21 pts, 9 rebs), perhaps still reeling from being scorned by the media whose votes propelled the upstart Atenean Enrico "Raging Bull" Villanueva to win Best Player of the Conference, shouted above the roar of the crowd,

"Basta ang alam ko sa sarili ko, ako ang MVP", before walking away from a stupefied Jason Webb, cub post-game reporter of the day.

In a championship series, and in a crucial game that dared the true warriors, and the real MVP to, please, stand up, Kerby's post-game outburst was a mighty bold move. Now the series is tied 2-2. His fearless declaration, driven no doubt by his unwavering confidence in his own basketball skills, had cast a dark cloud on the rest of the series. Will he prove himself true to his words in the end, vindicated and victorious? Or will he be the victim of his own pretense? Personally, I giggled after hearing his pronouncement last night, but later I thought of the truly great players like Jordan and Kobe, who had the balls to tell the world they're the greatest. Who knew Kerby had it in him? Mediocre as he may be, side-by-side a Garnett or a Duncan, but, man, he sure is entertaining. Now, it remains to be seen who'd get to laugh last.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

First Post, or: How fare the Magic?

Steve Francis to the Knicks?

I've been a Magic fan since Grant Hill re-joined the Orlando lineup. Had a great year last year, barring that shin injury towards the end of the season. Right now, he's still in the throes of sports hernia, and is being kept off the starting lineup until he recovers fully.

As of this writing, the Magic is battling the Heat at home, in the second night of a back-to-back (the Heat won yesterday). I know that the Heat will win, but I'm not closing any door to Lady Luck. Maybe the Magic will win, neh? Sigh.

Darko is also reportedly being peddled to the Magic. How will this work out, I wonder?