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Gimme The Ball: PBA Finals Fever

Jessica Mendoza gives you the lowdown on the drama, the storylines, and the cast surrounding the PBA semis and the upcoming Finals (and how to get the girlfriend watching!)

Jan 5, 2013
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The Finals of the PBA’s 2012-13 Philippine Cup is upon us. As usual, the non-sports-fan females in your life are close to revolting over your insistence at television command while the games are on. Worry not. The trick, as always, is simplification.

From my experience, the best way to get someone to understand something is to strip it down to the bare essentials. For instance, America’s Next Top Model is my guilty pleasure. How do I explain that to a guy who doesn’t give a crap about fashion? I start with the main characters: Tyra Banks, the hilariously self-obsessed host and lead judge, who makes everything on the show about her; and Jay Manuel, the on-the-floor guy who has to deal with the models’ daily drama. I mention a few of the contestants—my favorites, my least favorites, and why. I engage my guy friend in conversation, asking which models he finds pretty, whose legs are better, etc.

I even tell him we can also chug a beer every time Tyra says something like, “When I was a model…” In short, I exert effort to make the show enjoyable for him.

The same can be done with non-fans of the PBA. What’s great about the Finals is anyone can tune in to Game One without knowing much about the rest of the conference, and still be in on what’s going on. Have her look at the top four teams in the conference. Make sure she keeps in mind that the main objective, just as it is in ANTM, is to win it all. (Disclaimer: Due to word count limitations, I can only pick so many players in a team. Just play along, okay?)

Let’s start with the guys that were just eliminated:


Alaska Aces

The drama is...: Alaska is a team with a long history that has struggled with coach and player changes in the past couple of years. This particular incarnation of the team went the furthest the franchise has been in the post-Tim Cone era (more on him later). They’re a loaded squad that barreled their way into the semis and fearlessly went toe-to-toe with the top-seeded team in the league. They lost in six games, but not without bringing some proverbial blood to the battlefield.

The leader of the band is...: Luigi Trillo, a first-time PBA head coach who earned his stripes first in the UAAP, coaching Adamson University, then in the PBA Developmental League, where he twice led the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems to the Finals. He has time and again showed confidence amid criticism, and in this series demonstrated deep faith in his players.

Be sure she remembers…: Cyrus Baguio, whose acrobatics and athleticism earned him the moniker “Skyrus.” He’s the team’s top scorer, and his performance partly anchored Alaska’s offense.
 
Amaze her with the skills of...: Rookie Calvin “The Beast” Abueva, whose physical style of play has so far served his team well, not to mention cranked up the excitement level for Alaska fans. Part of the fun of watching Alaska was counting how many times he ended up on the floor after a hustle play.

For eye candy, she can check out...: Tony de la Cruz and his chiseled good looks. He also gets plus pogi points for being team captain and a four-time PBA All-Star.


San Mig Coffee Mixers


The drama is...: They’re the old Purefoods franchise and one of the most popular teams in the league. With a sparkling roster headed by one of the most victory-laden coaches in the PBA today, they earned the top two spot at the end of eliminations. But the team lost in the semis in six games to the rough-and-tumble Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, who managed to throw off “Big Game” James Yap—“The Man with a Million Moves” (and crazy as it sounds, the description's not as exaggerated as you’d think) and arguably the most recognizable face in the league. Still, this isn’t a team to be taken lightly. They’ll sure exact revenge in the coming conferences.

The leader of the band is...: Tim Cone, whose list of achievements is longer than I can fit in a short paragraph. Most notable is that in his 22 years coaching Alaska he won them 13 championships, including a Grand Slam in 1996. He won his first title with the Purefoods franchise last year, against the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters. Also, he’s super nice when he’s not barking angry instructions on the court.

Be sure she remembers...: Mark Barroca, a young, fiery point guard whose energy gave life to the Mixers whenever it seemed they started to lag. Though only a sophomore, his confidence when on the floor with proven veterans is something to behold.

Amaze her with the skills of...: Peter June Simon, a three-time PBA All-Star whose nickname “The Scoring Apostle” is well earned. He’s soft-spoken off the court, but come game time his moves do all the talking.
 
For eye candy, she can check out (besides James Yap)...: Marc Pingris, nicknamed Sakuragi after the energetic character in the basketball anime Slam Dunk, though Ping—tall and lean, with cheekbones that pay homage to his French blood—is much easier on the eyes than his cartoon counterpart. 

NEXT: It's a Finals showdown between the league's big bad bullies and a superstar-less squad


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WORDS: JESSICA C. MENDOZA
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