Palawan, we have entered the last quarter stretch of this year’s National Basketball Association regular season and this is the time where you see teams in the running beefing up their rosters for a strong push to make it to the playoffs.
The Milwaukee Bucks have added Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol fortifying their frontline anticipating a clash with the Golden State Warriors In this year’s finals. Before the Bucks could focus their attention to the Warriors, however, there stands another team who boosted its stock at the post with the addition of a key big man in Mark Gasol. The Toronto Raptors likewise added height and bulk with the addition of Pau’s younger brother.
It is looking like the Eastern Conference powerhouses are looking to pound the Warriors down low with the strategy of adding big men on their already powerful rosters. Analytics may have been a factor when these two teams considered tweaking their line ups heading to the finish…. Or they are simply trying to match up with the Dubs who now have a very healthy Demarcus Cousins as a legitimate post threat.
Out West, it seems movements were relatively quiet outside of the Portland Trailblazers adding scoring power via the acquisition of Rodney Hood and the reactivation of Isaiah Thomas (IT) by the Denver Nuggets. It is looking like a small ball and speed remain to be the theme in this Conference.
While the top quartile teams seem to be revving up their playoff push, many are wondering if the Los Angeles Lakers could still make it past the regular season,
Lebron James and his crew need some sort of a miracle: close to sweeping all of their remaining games to make it to the dance. Many analysts are saying that LA should just take the conservative approach and just preserve and shut “The King” down this season to avoid the risk of aggravating the injury. My opinion is, I agree that LBJ has got to sit. The Lakers can allow the last games of the regular season to give more exposure to the young guys. Let Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart keep the team afloat and get that much-needed game ownership as leverage for a better season ahead.
Lebron has already surpassed Michael Jordan in the all-time scoring ranking as of this writing. He already has that feather on the cap and something to be positive about this year. Yes, he is used to playoff runs. Yes, he can will himself to lead the team toward a very demanding stretch. Yes, he can probably deliver….. but let’s face it. The Western Conference is a war zone with heavyweights like the Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs, the Blazers and the Denver Nuggets. Even the Utah Jazz are a solid team this year. Even if the Lakers make it to the playoffs, we may be seeing a first round exit for this young team. Rest “The King” and tweak the roster a bit in the offseason and make a solid push next year. My two cents.
The LOOONG PBA Season
With Team Pilipinas, a selection of the very best players in our very own Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), qualifying for 2019 FIBA World Cup, we are seeing another extended season for Asia’s first pay for play league. Last year, with the FIBA qualifiers spread out the calendar year, I believe the PBA season lasted 14 months. The same is expected this year.
Kudos to the PBA, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Team Pilipinas sponsors led by the MVP group for driving back to back World Cup appearances.
Let’s now turn our focus to our players who now have little to no window of rest in between seasons. Do we still need the 3 – Conference set up what with the FIBA calendar causing pauses in our pro basketball operations? I personally believe that, with 12 teams, the PBA should start going back to the All Filipino and 1 import-laced conference format. This dual conference set up can allow for active participation of our players in the league proper and in the FIBA tourneys, limited interruptions to our tournament operations and a period of quality rest for our athletes. It is going to be a win-win situation for everyone especially the fans because the bi-product of this initiative are healthy and optimum performance level players resulting in more exciting and quality games. If the NBA training programs allow premier athletes to rest at least a full month after a grueling season, our athletes deserve the same. Go Pinas!
(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing Contact Center company in Puerto Princesa. He also is the current Puerto Princesa Underground River Festival Foundation President)