Air21: Back to old name, Back to old habits


What the f**k is wrong with Air21?


After I applauded the Air21 Express for bagging Renren Ritualo and Yancy de Ocampo, I now look at them thinking that their basketball honchos are insane.


I seriously can’t see the reason why Air21 keeps on sending their top talents to the big franchises. I thought for sure they grew a backbone when they reverted back to their former name and took back the talents that made them work but as it is…

Their old name brought back their old habits.

First of all, I am not against Rich Alvarez, Doug Kramer, and Mike Cortez going to Air21. I think this is great. Kramer, if he’ll be used as a mere benchwarmer, shouldn’t have gone out of the Lina franchise in the first place. Rich Alvarez might be a “bust” as a top draft pick, but is still very valuable in terms of import stoppage and hustle. Mike Cortez proved he can still get solid numbers despite limited minutes and constant position shifts (he sometimes plays SF on Siot’s small ball). Lito Alvarez wants to see the stars of Ateneo and DLSU circa early 2000’s in one roof.

But what’s the point of trading away their two needs???

Needs are more essential than wants, as far as first grade science textbooks are concerned. Last conference, the then-Burger King franchise groped to form without top pick and current Smart-Gilas frontman Japeth Aguilar in the middle. JR Quinahan, Beau Belga, Carlo Sharma, and Richard Yee rotated at the power forward and center spots but these guys found foul trouble in the process. Clearly, even if these guys have bulk, what they lack was height. I am but certain this was one of the reasons why Yancy de Ocampo was brought to the club. Even if this means sacrificing their most consistent big man in Quinahan, the new-look Express are desperate for a scoring big man and Yancy fits the bill. With Yancy heading to Ginebra in place of Alvarez and Kramer, it again made Air21 vulnerable in the shaded area. While Kramer seems like a player that can play PF/C, Alvarez is more of a forward. The Fiesta Cup will be played by imports standing 6’6 and under which means that most of the imports suiting up are either athletic small forwards and undersized power forwards. I guess it’s safe to say Air21 will be praying to get the “latter” of the said choices from Leroy Hickerson.

Which reminds me of another thing: Air21 just gave Ginebra what they want. If Air21 found themselves “dooping” the Kings then they are wrong. Yancy is something Uichico has hoped for. He is a big guy that has scoring which he couldn’t see when Rafi Reavis was around. Also, if you’re Air21, how can you stop Ginebra now that they have the backcourt awesomeness of Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Ronald Tubid, Sunday Salvacion, Cyrus Baguio, JC Intal, and Junthy Valenzuela when their frontcourt is awesome as well? What can they do if Uichico decides to go tall and place a healthy Eric Menk, Enrico Villanueva, De Ocampo, Willy Wilson, Billy Mamaril, and Rudy Hatfield to join the fray? Sure, Alvarez and Kramer could probably get great stats from them but like I said, they’ll have a size problem. And don’t give me that crap about “size doesn’t matter but performance does” shit because they can’t rely on Ritualo, Ronjay Buenafe, Alex Cabagnot

Oh wait.

Here’s another “need” I wanted to talk about.

You see, I admit, the Cool Cat is good. However, the untapped potential of Alex Cabagnot has been rising up in such a rapid pace. Remember during the trade that sent him and Wesley Gonzales to the Whoppers for Gary David and Chico Lanete, Cabagnot and Buenafe were the only viable scoring options for BK. Sure, now Air21 has Ritualo and Cortez but San Miguel is a vast talent wasteland that they could have gotten cannon fodders like Mike Holper, Chris Calaguio, Bonbon Custodio or the rights of James Sena (just joking, I know he’s in the PBL pissed as hell of applying in the draft too early, but I just want to bring this up). Were their draft picks involved because that would surely help? It is not like Air21 is the one that wants to take out Cabagnot. SMB wants him. Cabagnot averaged 12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, one steal and 38 minutes in two years which makes him capable to lead a team if he gets the proper players to work on. Sure, San Miguel seems like a great team to get his moves to dazzle but I’m wondering how he’ll do with a huge minutes slash in his playing time. Mike Cortez, as much as he is a good player, is more of a number 2 or number 3 option at best. Cabagnot can lead a team… which is why I think SMB had the better of this trade and would probably hurt Cabagnot’s chances to further cement his claim at a hall of fame career.

Air21 needs to evaluate their roster. Junel Baculi needs to perform his scouting magic and try to get a new “Mark Yee” to quench their lack of ceiling. Sena is a free agent that should interest them because he is a 6’6 slotman. How about Edwin Asoro? I thought Jerwin Gaco is a good choice but I doubt he would sign up for them since he is affiliated with Mikee Romero whose Harbour Centre has aligned itself with Barako Bull. Maybe they can knock at Purefoods’ door since they have guys like Don Allado, Romel Adducul and Jondan Salvador playing well but is getting superbly limited playing time.

Nonetheless, if the honchos want the Ube Republic to win a championship in this league, then they must not let people get their players. Deal wisely for the sake of your team and not submit to bullying.

Game over.


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