Sydman: Ranking the 2010 PBA All-Filipino Cup

I have a date so I will be extremely direct on my choices.

This is how I will rank the teams playing in the All-Filipino Conference.

10 BARAKO – By virtue of default, I’m going to write this team off. Until Barako finds a better moniker... and a star player, their season is pretty much dead right off the bat! Rob Wainwright is a steady force but at this moment their shooting guards are inconsistent, the point guards lack the swagger, and the frontline isn’t as pierce as other teams. However, check this out, Sunday Salvacion is now in the squad. Finally, he’ll be able to do what the Kings restrain him. The question is... will he be the one that could least lift this team out of early elimination?

KEY GAIN – Sunday Salvacion. Unless Ken Bono and Richard Yee become a big time frontcourt duo, they’ll need a person to lead this core.

KEY LOSS – Al Vergara. This means their backcourt team comprising of Aris Dimaunahan, Marvin Cruz, Paolo Hubalde, and Borgie Hermida needs to perform well in his absence.

9 POWERADE – I thought this team had an awesome lineup but in an instant, two trades managed to wreck it. I cannot believe they just traded Asi Taulava for Rob Reyes. Sure, they have draft picks but I don’t if they have a good chance this season. I know Eddie Laure is a good player but that was when MBA mattered. Trading him for Larry Rodriguez will not help long term-wise. At least they managed to get Renren Ritualo and Sean Anthony to join Gary David, Mark Macapagal, RJ Rizada, Norman Gonzales, and Dennis Espino.

KEY GAIN – Sean Anthony. How will Sean Anthony play for the squad since the team is overloaded in guards but lacking in big men?

KEY LOSS – Asi Taulava. All of a sudden the Tigers are undersized. Dennis Espino, at his age, has his work cut out for him.

8 BMEG – What on earth can they do with Kerby Raymundo, Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis, and James Yap either out or injured? And how can they let their first round pick be traded to a team that’s not in the PBA? Sure, Jerwin Gaco is more experienced compared to Pari Llagas but can they just get both? With Roger Yap, Don Allado, Romel Adducul, Jondan Salvador, Peter June Simon, KG Canaleta, and Rico Maierhofer, the Llamados can still have a strong showing if they want to. Unfortunately, I can’t see the Llamados protecting their championship without Kerby, Marc, and King James.

KEY GAIN – Jonas Villanueva. J-Vill should have had a breakout season but with SMB’s continuous gorging of talents, his rise was derailed. I hate to admit it but he could be a better alternative than Paul Artadi.

KEY LOSS – Paul Artadi. The guy was a fireball of energy. Sure, he has flaws but he gives the Llamados backcourt a different feel.

7 AIR21 – They now have an extremely great frontline and they managed to stack their team with point guards. These were the missing parts of their campaign last season. Wynne Arboleda will pretty much call the shots for Yeng Guiao inside the court but he will have Josh Urbiztondo and Marcy Arellano to back him up. Ronjay Buenafe, returnee JR Quinahan, Leo Najorda, Carlo Sharma, and Wesley Gonzales, will play alongside big time rookies Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Rey Guevarra, and top pick Nonoy Baclao. How the Express will fare in this conference will depend on how these guys would mesh.

KEY GAIN – Rabeh Al-Hussaini. I don’t care if Baclao is the top pick. Rabeh is the rightful top pick and he’ll try everything to expose that fact.

KEY LOSS – Beau Belga. Big Boy Belga has blossomed under Yeng’s tutelage. Expect Yeng to train the two bigs on how to use their size to their advantage.

6 RAIN OR SHINE – For the longest time, their size has been the issue with only Jay-R Reyes as their most dominant attraction. In the draft, they found themselves with upstarts like Josh Vanlandingham and RJ Jazul and in trades and free agency they managed to claim Doug Kramer, John Ferriols, Paolo Bugia, and Larry Rodriguez. Sure, these guys are mere supplements that can fashion out wins by themselves but they’ll be valuable when they play good alongside Gabe Norwood, Reyes, Sol Mercado, Jervy Cruz, TY Tang, Mike Hrabak, Ryan Arana, and Jeff Chan.

KEY GAIN – Josh Vanlandingham. He will likely have a major role for the Painters at the All-Filipino Cup with Mercado on loan in Team Pilipinas.

KEY LOSS – Eddie Laure. Rain or Shine has an intact lineup but with the veteran smarts from a leader, they could falter in some games.

5 MERALCO – Ranking them high? I believe so. If Asi plays, this rank would even get higher. This is not a bad team by any means. The Sta. Lucia side of things with Bitoy Omolon, Marlou Aquino, Yousif Aljamal, Pong Escobal, Chris Ross, Ogie Menor, and Gabby Espinas combine with Belga, Taulava, Shawn Weinstein, Ford Arao, and Cardona to make the Bolts by no means, a very tough rookie squad. Ryan Gregorio planned his pre-season well and I don’t think they’ll falter too deep in this conference. And yeah... they are electrifying.

KEY GAIN – Macmac Cardona. Since Ryan Gregorio doesn’t have James Yap on his side, most of his plays will be taken by Captain Hook.

KEY LOSS – Josh Urbiztondo. Hopefully Pong Escobal and Chris Ross will play well in the PG spot since they they’re oozing with potential.

4 TALK N TEXT – On paper, they were awesome. Now, they aren’t that awesome. Macmac Cardona is in another team and Kelly Williams is on loan. Ranidel de Ocampo needs to heal from a surgery he recently undergone. Left in their squad are their big-time backcourt of Jimmy Alapag, Jason Castro, and Ryan Reyes and their frontcourt that consists of Ali Peek, Harvey Carey, Rich Alvarez, and Mark Telan. Larry Fonacier and Jared Dillinger will have a tough time competing against the other scorers of other teams. Hopefully, they’ll perform to their potential as the season progress.

KEY GAIN – Ali Peek. The team’s size has been decimated and even if Peek has age and size riding his ass, he can still get the job done.

KEY LOSS – Macmac Cardona. Can the Cardona trade be good for the squad? I don’t know but hopefully Larry Fonacier will have a breakout season.

3 ALASKA – LA Tenorio, Cyrus Baguio, Tony Dela Cruz, Joe Devance, Sonny Thoss, and Reynel Hugnatan are back to give everyone hell. With the way they are playing right now, they want to at least get to the point Sean Chambers, Johnny Abarrientos, and company had when Alaska hosted their 25th year party. They have that chance as they have various pieces of the puzzle to work with. The evolution of Sam Eman, Bonbon Custodio, and Mark Borboran should heal the lack of bench and size of the squad.

KEY GAIN – Elmer Espiritu. Should Hugnatan be worried? Probably! Espiritu is like Reynel although younger. Expect him to boost Alaska’s bench.

KEY LOSS – Larry Fonacier. He has instrumental in their Fiesta Cup win. Bonbon Custodio will probably piss Tim Cone off with his poor shot selections.

2 GINEBRA – They are saying that for the first time in years, Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, Eric Menk, Rudy Hatfield, Mike Cortez, Willie Miller, JC Intal, Enrico Villanueva, and rest of the Kings are injury free. I like their chances especially when lady luck and their millions of fans rally behind them. The problem is they have a lot of players who are thinking they are the star players of the squad. Again, on paper they are monstrous but translating this to wins should be hard. Luckily they barely touched the squad so chemistry shouldn’t be a problem.

KEY GAIN – Billy Mamaril. I like to say Jimbo Aquino but the fact is, he’ll probably get ten minutes or less for this talent-laden squad.

KEY LOSS – Sunday Salvacion. Well... he’s not. Like I said, they are too overloaded that Salvacion out of their system is a good thing.

1 SAN MIGUEL – Again, on paper they are scary but again, they need to dictate this in games. With Siot Tanquingcen moving to Ginebra, changes should be seen in terms of plays and rotation. Just like Ginebra, they barely touched the squad. In fact, they only have Paul Artadi as their new guy. They are knee-deep in every position and I expect Arwind Santos, Jay Washington, Alex Cabagnot, Dondon Hontiveros, Danny Ildefonso, Dorian Pena, Danny Seigle, Olsen Racela, Denok Miranda, Mick Pennisi, Lordy Tugade, and Joseph Yeo will do everything to re-claim the All Filipino Title.

KEY GAIN – Paul Artadi. With Alex Cabagnot liking set-up offense, Artadi would key the team’s fast break attack.

KEY LOSS – Jonas Villanueva. Parting is such a sweet sorrow but like I said, Artadi will add a different dimension to SMB.

With the return of the three-conference format, the grand slam chance has returned.

This season promises to be exciting!



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