FINALS: Powerade Tigers 1 - 3 Talk N Text Tropang Texters
With two straight losses, frustration has been mounting in the camp of the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings.

The heat seems to have bubbled to the surface on Monday, when Ginebra superstar Mark Caguioa went on radio to express his feelings about the team’s direction.

“How can I help them when I’m sitting on the bench,” said Caguioa in an interview with Sports Radio 918. In Ginebra’s past two games against Meralco and Talk ‘N Text — both losses — Caguioa played just 12 and 19 minutes, respectively.

“Me and Jayjay [Helterbrand] playing together was successful in our past two wins, bakit biglang iniba? Nagiging chess match ang rotation, but let the players play.”

Prior to the two losses, Ginebra had won two games with last-minute comebacks against Powerade and, with veterans Caguioa and Helterbrand each playing an instrumental role in the victories.

But Ginebra co-coach Jong Uichico said the team was merely fortunate to have won in those matches.

“We won two games via escape acts and we were aided by luck,” he told InterAKTV in a telephone interview. “We cannot count on luck all the time and our luck practically ran out during our last two games.”

“In my opinion, it’s time for Ginebra to rebuild.”

Fellow coach Siot Tanquingcen shares the same sentiments.

“We in the coaching staff have been talking about that,” said Tanquingcen. “There will be changes along the way. We made some recommendations regarding the players we need, but we just have to wait for it because we don’t know if it’s agreeable to the other party.”

He didn’t divulge the names of the players he wanted the team to acquire, instead pointing to the rather obvious weakness of the team in the frontcourt. Starting power forward Rudy Hatfield left the team last season, and has left a big hole in the Gin Kings’ rotation.

“The departure of Rudy Hatfield was definitely crucial for us,” said Tanquingcen. “If you notice, we’re a team that doesn’t have many offensive rebounds while we’re also allowing the other teams to get more offensive rebounds against us.”

Changing of the guards

Last season, the Gin Kings took steps to get younger, drafting young guards John Wilson, Jimbo Aquino, and Rob Labagala. Over the past few games, Labagala and Wilson have been designated starters for Ginebra.

The move to give more playing time to the younger guys at the expense of his minutes doesn’t exactly sit well with Caguioa.

“Sabi nila dapat bigyan ng chance yung mga bata,” he said. “OK yun, pero huwag naman mag-experiment sa harap ng crowd.”

Uichico and Tanquingcen said the veteran guard may have been carried away with emotions brought about by the team’s loss.

“We all know Mark as a vocal person and I understand him for that,” said Uichico. “But just like us coaches, players should be accountable, too, if the team loses. Coaches are ready to take the blame whenever we lose, but players should know their responsibilities as well.”

Tanquingcen said that the rebuilding process is something every franchise needs to go through.

“When I became coach of Ginebra in 2004, these guys, Mark, Jayjay and Eric [Menk] were already there and they’re the cornerstone of the franchise. Up to now ba kelangan sila pa rin ang bubuhat sa team? I think it’s about time for our young players to step up and to do that, you need to give them exposure.”

“There’s a cycle in basketball and Mark, Jayjay and the other veterans, I’m sure they know that. They were once in the positions of these young guys. When they came to Ginebra, Vergel Meneses and Bal David were the ones playing heavy minutes, but a few years after, sila naman ang pumalit. These young guys that are now with us, ganun din ang gagawin nila sa mga beterano.”


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