Baguio and Miller: THE SWITCH!

Alaska gave in to Willie Miller. After two years of demanding to be transferred, he finally got his wish.

But is this really the right team for the Thriller?

The house of Pinoy basketball just got rocked following the agreement reached by the Ginebra Kings and the Alaska Aces. The former two-time MVP has been shipped to the dugout of the crowd favourites for Cyrus Baguio. Miller is probably feeling that the triangle offense restricts him to do more in court. The jolly spitfire also reportedly got the ire of import Diamon Simpson for goofing off in practice. This is not the first time this happened. A couple of years back, Rosell Ellis had the same beef with the Thriller but they eventually ironed things out and the Aces won the championship (although Ellis’ second stint with the Aces had dismal results).

I’m an avid reader of Fire Quinito and when I read this, I was pissed. You see, Alaska and BMEG started the Fiesta Conference late and the Aces will play twice-a-week games on a consistent basis beginning May 1. I usually pick Miller during the playoffs but I needed the boost on points. I was looking forward to acquire Miller’s abundant supply of points, rebounds, and assists gains but following the trade I doubt it will happen.

Yes, I was talking about PBFANTASY here.

I was happy to be proven wrong when I first heard about Arwind Santos’ transfer to San Miguel. Same goes for Alex Cabagnot. Despite playing in a talent-loaded squad, both players are getting the stats they used to have back in Burger King. However, I can’t shake it off that maybe Tim Cone, Joaqui Trillo, and company had “aces on their sleeve” when they decided to ship Miller out.

During the Philippine Cup, I noticed that the Aces fail to impress whenever the Thriller dishes out big numbers. This is why I chose him early – because I felt I was better off playing him during the regular season then have LA Tenorio, Tony dela Cruz, Joe Devance, and Sonny Thoss during the playoffs when the Aces gain an outright berth. When he goes on his superstar mode where he takes the shots he wants to take, the triangle offense stops becoming a triangle and Miller time ensues. If you check Alaska’s numbers in the Philippine Cup, you’ll see that they have six players scoring eight points and more. If his big numbers can’t help the Aces win, then Willie Miller could not probably be the right fit for Alaska.

But Cyrus Baguio could be that guy.

Ever since he was traded to Ginebra he has been disgruntled. Should he always wait for Mark Caguioa to get injured? He was sent to the Kings because he was reportedly upset in his tenure as a Burger King Whopper. He was a second round pick by Red Bull in 2003 and he was fourth in the rotation after Lordy Tugade, Larry Fonacier, and Junthy Valenzuela but he persevered and became the player he is today.

People are forgetting when during Tugade, Valenzuela, Fonacier, and Enrico Villanueva left the squad; it was Baguio that stepped up big time. In the 2007-08 season, he played in 48 games and averaged 18.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.7apg, and 1.3spg. Baguio had less help in offense that season which was the year Valenzuela flew to the Kings and Pennisi, a player that should have stepped up in terms of scoring duties, groped to form big time! In that roster only Reed Juntilla played for the Barakos that season that is still playing for the squad this season (they are now called Barako Coffee). What’s great was this ragtag core made the semifinals twice that year and finished with identical third place honors. Baguio wasn’t like his Ginebra version back then. He normed almost 30 minutes so he wasn’t shot-crazy unlike when he was with the Gins where he played a little over 20 minutes… depending on Jong Uichico’s mood.

Why am I saying this? Baguio, if given the minutes, can lead a team. Alaska is not a ragtag team. It has a system and a roster dedicated to win championships. It has a winning tradition and a bunch of Hall of Famers (that will include Willie Miller) connected to their rich history. But I just wished Alaska asked for a couple of benchwarmers from the Kings. Miller is averaging 17.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0spg and 4.5apg in 35.5mpg while Cyrus gets 9.2ppg, 1.4rpg, and 1.8apg in 24.0mpg. I think Ginebra could hand out a second round draft pick or Junjun Cabatu or Paolo Bugia (both have yet to see action this season). But then again, this is an okay one-for-one deal because Baguio is lucky to even get those kinds of stats with the way Ginebra treats their slashers. The only thing that Alaska lacks now is if they are ready to address Baguio as their leader. Baguio just arrived and he’ll probably be Tim Cone’s newest version of Kenneth Duremdes. Unfortunately for Cone, LA would definitely want that leadership role and Joe DeVance would probably want his say with the team to widen. Miller was the team’s undisputed leader and the quicker they address this, the better their situation will be in the future.

Can you imagine how souped up Ginebra’s offense would be if Miller teams up with Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand? The luxury in using Miller is that Miller is a combo guard. Miller can blend with Mark and Jayjay and then Miller can orchestrate when he’s with Ronald Tubid and JC Intal. The only problem I see for Miller is that he is shot-crazy. A typical SMC team yearns for a revolving set of big time players. I won’t be surprised if Asi Taulava, Jimmy Alapag, and Sonny Thoss don the SMC colors before they retire. This means Miller would have to contend with Caguioa, Helterbrand, Tubid, Intal, Celino Cruz, the next slasher taken by Ginebra, and just like the current conference… an import. You have to also wonder how Eric Menk, Rudy Hatfield and Enrico Villanueva consider the fact that they are mere bodies to chase rebounds and give it to a random slasher. You also need to think of how Willy Wilson, Billy Mamaril, and Sunday Salvacion when you look at this quagmire. Wilson is not a scorer so he’ll fit with the Kings but I guess the Billy and Sunday need to look for teams that would give them 15 minutes or more.

As of this moment, I say that both clubs won in this trade. Although, I am leaning more towards Alaska because they’ll definitely use Baguio for 30 minutes… long-term wise. Miller meanwhile, would need to be in shape all the time because he can’t let the other slashers steal his spotlight.

Unlike in Alaska, he can slack off without punishment.

Ginebra is a different story.

Game over.


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