A Second Chance (PBA Free Agents Edition)

Willie Miller playing at the Asean Basketball League (Photo from ABL Website)
Willie Miller playing at the Asean Basketball League (Photo from ABL Website)

Now that the 2016 PBA Commissioners’ Cup is just few hours away and seeing some posts from various social media sites, there’s no denying that there are a lot of talents that are both undiscovered and underutilised.

 Unfortunately, some of those who deserve a spot  doesn’t have a team or are buried on the depth chart.
Who still has it? Who needs some time to prove their worth?

Here we go!

***

1. Willie Miller

Make no mistake about it. A former top pick overall in 2001, two-time MVP, Finals MVP, National Team mainstay, perennial All-Star, All-Star Skills champion, and an unmatchable sense of humour on and off the court is what the former Letran Knight can bring to the table. Since he is not getting any younger, leadership and guiding young guns at any team is what any basketball aficionados expect from the pride of Gapo.
With the arrival of bigger and quicker guards, he added more bulk to his 5’11” frame to gain an advantage in terms of physicality and now that he’s keeping himself in top shape by playing in other minor leagues, there’s no denying that “The Thriller” is set for another tour of duty in the PBA. Who knows, Asi Taulava came from ABL and still playing huge minutes and reppin’ our country in the world stage.

Best possible team

BLACKWATER ELITE – A team that needs a leader at the backcourt other than Mike Cortez. They may have found one in Brian Heruela but they gave him away to SMB and got a prolific scoring guard in Carlo Lastimosa, who is more of a slasher than a distributor.

2. Mark Macapagal

The final pick of the 2005 PBA draft by TNT that was signed up by Brgy. Ginebra is a pure shooter since day one. A four-time Three-Point Shootout champion in the PBA All-Star games and a reliable sniper in the clutch, the former San Sebastian Stag appears to be more effective off-the bench and a perfect complement to a run-and-gun style of play with his hustle and, again, sniping. Continuous decrease on playing time lost may have affected his accuracy and consistency but the shooter that he is, he could be a contributor as he get his momentum going.

Best possible team

MAHINDRA ENFORCER – Karl Dehesa and LA Revilla is their main outside gunners outside rainbow country with Dehesa’s exposure with FIBA 3×3 and Revilla’s excellent basketball program back in DLSU but their main role is to distribute the ball, leaving Hyram Bagatsing the only licensed shooter. However, with several line-up shuffling that aims to discover what combination would click, Macapagal is a possible fit for those who are looking for a team for a shooter they can rely on. In addition, the Macabebe, Pampanga native’s touch is far better than their other guards – much better than their playing coach.

3. Sunday Salvacion

The former CSB Blazer has proven time and time again that he’s not just that one-dimensional player he is known to during his NCAA years. He has developed his defense very significantly during his early years with Ginebra and at small forward position, he’s a good weak-side rebounder and help defender at 6’4″. He’s once a forgotten man on each team’s lineup that he played for but once he’s on the court, expect him to do more than what coaches are asking from him. Ask Coach Ryan Gregorio after “Sunday Special” hit a three at the buzzer to win the game for Meralco Bolts.

Best possible team

TNT TROPANG TEXTERS – Everybody on the line-up of TNT can shoot threes (except Harvey Carey) but with their aging swingmen (Carey, Danny Seigle, Kelly Williams) and seldom used bench players (Larry Rodriguez and the “underutilisation” of former Gilas 1.0 hotshot Dylan Ababou) comes fresher legs to keep their team in step with quicker teams. Sunday may be 37 but the intangibles that he brings on the floor and the respect he has earned over the years could draw the defense up to the 30-foot line, giving more space for Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario to operate underneath. TNT Loves playing with rebounding forwards and Sunday could give them that for a year or even more while waiting for the draft prospects.

4. Jason Deutchman

I personally look at him as a smaller version of Nick Fazekas. His feet is quicker than most players 6’6″ above. Though he cannot battle against the big boys underneath, he can draw one or two away from the shaded area and attack the lane for a fishing expedition and with his free-throw shooting, each of them will count at the end during the waning minutes of each game. Too bad, his wares were not fully used by Mahindra because of playing time but if you’re looking for a quick offense, JDeutch deserves a second look.

Best possible team

ALASKA ACES – as Dondon Hontiveros (38), Tony Dela Cruz (37) and Cyrus Baguio (35) is nearing father time, JDeutch is only 29 and can run the floor. Coach Alex Compton’s pressure defense requires relentless energy and with the length of Deutchman, you can not go wrong putting him anywhere on the floor. All he needs to do is to work out on his strength, maybe at least to the level of a Keith Jensen.

5. Bonbon Custodio

The super rookie from UE with a memorable season with SMB in 2009 with his fearless penetrations and unconscious shooting. He is a well-traveled point guard that failed to find a second home after his great run with the current champs.

Best possible team

MAHINDRA ENFORCER – They will get a smaller version of a Ronjay Buenafe – a speedster who is not afraid of the big moments. This would give the team more options during crunchtime since LA Revilla and Karl Dehesa is under everybody’s scouting reports but if they need length (they obviously need one), they can just include Bonbon on the reserves and be part of the experimentation since he will be, most of the time, at the wrong end of mismatches.

Honor-rolls

6. Isaac Holstein – Coach Tim Cone’s “project” but did not have his chances. A defensive demon in the PBA D-League. He could be the answer to Coach Norman Black’ prayer for a big man.
7. Jimbo Aquino – A very patient scoring guard that had his chances with Ginebra but is was obviously overshadowed by John Wilson as he was sidelined with an injury. I have not heard anything about him since 2013 but this guy can ball.
8. Leo Najorda – The sweet shooting leftie that can give any team quality minutes. This former San Sebastian Stag was mentored by Coach Yeng Guiao so he knows exactly what hardwork is about.
9. Ogie Menor – Any team that needs toughness needs to sign this guy. He may have the reputation of a dirty player before but an enforcer that he is (and he has an MMA background), you might think twice before driving past him or his widely-known hairstyle will follow you in your dreams.
10. JR Buensuceso – He’s shown his wares in the PBA for Kia Sorento/Carnival as a speedy point guard who is ready to answer the call if his team needs somebody to score. He is also not afraid of physical contact with his penetrations down the lane and that’s what caught my attention and NOT because he has a resemblance with Billy Crawford.
There are some who were not signed or has not played in the PBA but some PBA teams might need them NOW, especially with the arrival of reinforcements.
Ryan Wetherell – Former USC Trojan who played alongside DeMar DeRozan, Taj Gibson and Nikola Vucevic, topped most of PBA Draft workouts and left unsigned by Globalport, who chose Roi Sumang over him.
JR Taganas – A 27 year-old, 6’4″, wide-bodied rebounding demon. Everybody deserves an explanation why does a guy who grabbed 29 REBOUNDS in a game playing for the Tier 2 league here in PH not in the PBA yet? Calvin Abueva is just 6’2″ and is a monster off-the-boards and Willy Wilson who is 6’3″ is piling up the caroms despite being undersized.
Maika Usita – Drafted by Brgy Ginebra in the fourth round of 2013 Draft. The Fil-Hawaiian failed to make it to the big league but talking about a real enforcer, a 6’7″ 301-pound posting waiting for everybody at the post, if either Mahindra, Blackwater or even Meralco and Rain Or Shine is looking for a legit big man, they may not have somebody like Greg Slaughter or June Mar Fajardo but you will get somebody that all big men’s lower and upper body strength will be put to test and will give you some perimeter points on the offensive end with his sweet stroke.

And oh, I wish some of those ballers who are vying for a political seat this coming elections. Paul Artadi and Mac Andaya, the Basketball community is behind you. Who knows, these two might be the quickest and the tallest councilors in the country.

Nakemiin!
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