photo by: PBA.ph
By: Bong Paredes
A lot has been said and written about Ginebra’s acquisition of Stanley Pringle. When pressed for comments, coaches from both sides made sure to express how happy they were with new players got and displayed a lot of class in making sure that they pay tribute to the players they traded away, as they should.
Does that mean that this is a “fair” trade? Better yet, did this transaction made both teams “better” as advertised? Short answer to that is a no. But this article looks to expound a little on the winners and losers post trade and not specifically aimed which team got better, which obviously in this case is Ginebra.
- The game has changed dramatically the last 6-8 years since the ascension of the splash brothers started the latest evolution of basketball offenses. Now, teams focus more on “space and pace”. This development necessitated that teams from all over the world adapt and construct their rosters and systems accordingly. Coach Tim Cone and the rest of his staff (and teams like San Mig Coffee prior to Ginebra) had to make the same adjustments and incorporated other actions and continuity offenses into their system instead of relying solely on the Triangle Offense.
Coach Tim is such a student of the game that he figured out how to do just that with Ginebra. At the same time, getting Stanley Pringle allows him to lean on the Triangle Offense more. If not in this conference, in the next year for sure.
How? I have a very rudimentary understanding of the Triangle but watching the Bulls in the 90’s and The Lakers from when Phil Jackson was there, plus watching the PBA the last 3 decades where Tim Cone’s teams won title after title, one thing is for certain. The Triangle offense is an equal opportunity system that makes players look better and make superstars look like Gods of basketball.
This offense does that by creating perfect spacing and giving the players the stage to make the right decisions all the time. The structure also prevents the players from making too many bad reads which lessens turnovers and increases everyone’s efficiency ideally.
How does this affect Coach Tim and Stan? Well for one, it gives everyone especially Pringle a ton of space all the time. What is Pringle elite at since day 1? Creating space where there isn’t any and leading the league in scoring when all the teams were keying in on him defensively. I’m not saying he will average more points than last time because he does not need to now with all the weapons he has in his arsenal.
Coach Tim Cone can now have 3 or 4 more different combinations that will not only be lethal, it will also guarantee that the Big 4 (Pringle, Slaughter, Thompson and Aguilar) will extend their primes by not being over utilized and LA Tenorio can now play more years than Mark Caguioa when’s all said and done barring any major injuries. Notice that I didn’t even talk about JDV, Brownlee and Mariano who are all amazing players. A recent SPIN article mentioned that SMB is still on top as far as the PBA arms race is concerned. I disagree wholeheartedly and Coach Tim Cone will show all of us why within the next year or so.
- Being the most skilled and talented player in the PBA since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2014 wasn’t enough for him to get any MVP’s nor championships because of a couple of factors. For one, he ran smack into the Junemar Fajardo era where not only is he the most dominant physical force in the PBA ever, he also has a supporting cast that can win titles without him if need be.
Second, since he isn’t eligible to play as a local in any FIBA sanctioned tournaments, it’s easy to forget about him since we also have a slew of elite guards in Jason Castro, Terrence Romeo, Paul Lee and Keifer Ravena that gets more love because we see them more often playing for GILAS.
Now that he is with the most popular team in the PBA with a team that can match up with SMB better now, he will start getting both individual accolades and titles that will push him in the conversation of being one of the best players in PBA history alongside the Johnny Abarrientos’ of the world even if he never plays a game for GILAS again.
- Northport’s highly touted rookie is going to be one of the best players in the PBA for years to come and I don’t doubt that. But having someone like Stanley Pringle mentoring and playing with him would have really fast tracked his development.
Terrence Romeo was in a similar position but Terrence is more of an Alpha and had the drive at an early age to assume the role of the lead even if Stanley was in a better position to do so. Stan showed maturity though and deferred to Terrence for the sake of team chemistry.
Sol Mercado’s arrival will alleviate some of the leadership gaps Pringle left. He can help Bolick with the reads on the floor and how to be a floor leader at this level but he isn’t in his prime anymore and the level of success they will have on the floor as a backcourt tandem will not be close to what it would have been had Pringle stayed. Too bad we will never get to see it.
- Mo’s ascension from a mediocre player with a ton of potential to a burgeoning premier big man in the class just below Junemar but right alongside the Ian Sangalangs and Christian Standhardingers of the league was mainly due to his chemistry with Sean Anthony and Stanley Pringle.
When he moved to Northport, he was utilized more as an off-ball weak side option and with all the attention that Pringle was getting and how he was finding Mo in scoring position where he needs to only put the ball in the basket instead of creating his shot, he started to thrive and his game opened up.
Mo seemed to take a more conscious effort to work on the skills that’s required to take advantage of the spots and openings that Pringle is creating for him and that led to him becoming the player he is today. Sean Anthony is still there, Sol Mercado can so some of the things Stanley used to provide and Mo’s work ethic is still impeccable so he will still be a very good player. I just don’t see him being the number 1 option on a championship team which this Pringle trade shoved him into since Bolick is still not there.
Ginebra will be the most successful team in the PBA between 2020-2022 barring any major injuries and changes. Stanley Pringle is that good. Ginebra and SMB will give us an entertaining rivalry at the top and at the expense of the league unfortunately.
For Northport, yes they will have more depth in Mercado, Cruz and Ferrer. But none of those guys will elevate this team into contention which they were on their way into becoming prior to this trade. All 3 players from Ginebra will contribute because they are good players. Just like Rashawn McCarthy, Ronald Tubid and Jay-R Reyes are good players and are still currently part of PBA rosters because they are “good”.
Just like Columbian Dyip are now without Christian Standhardinger, don’t expect Northport to come close to sniffing a title when there are only 2 teams left at the end of this Commissioner’s Cup, and that is with Northport sitting atop the standings as I’m writing this.