By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After receiving tons of positive feedback and with all the hype surrounding its upcoming season, the JB Amateur Basketball League is fast becoming the talk of the town here in Iloilo City.
With the main aim of promoting the grassroots program of basketball, the league would also like to help small-time businesses by promoting them through sports.
With season II of the JB ABL elite division fast approaching, almost all teams made major roster adjustments with hopes of making a run for the coveted title.
Upon hearing the latest trades and player acquisitions, I think it’s fair enough to say that all 10 participating teams will make a strong case for the title, and for the first part of the JB ABL team run down, let’s talk about the OJNA squad and team Malditos.
The OJNA youngsters proved that they can bang with the big boys after ending the JB ABL season I with a decent record, only to be eliminated by team ODM in the Category II finals match.
This off-season, the OJNA management decided to acquire Malditos’ all-around energy guy, John Ray Serra.
The move proved to be one of the most solid additions in JB ABL II as Serra can defend, has a decent perimeter game, can drive to the basket, and possesses high IQ inside the court that turns chaos into fortune most of the time.
With an emerging Jayjay Guanzon, an improving Cobe Bachoco, and an ever-reliable Paul Matta at the post, the team together with Serra deserves a “Yay” for me considering that OJNA is already a good team, only to be reinforced by a veteran like Serra.
Let’s talk about team Malditos this time.
Expectations did not come to reality for the Malditos squad after a disappointing finish last season.
Falling to the young OJNA team, the veteran Malditos squad also made major off-season moves that surprised the JB ABL community.
They got big names man, big names.
One of the elite guards in our city and a former MPBL cager, Gerry Antonio Abadiano, will offer his services to team Malditos this season II and his addition will only make the squad a threat offensively.
Also, Abadiano’s versatility and ability to play from the point-guard to small forward positions will be a big help for Malditos by allowing their other role players play their natural positions.
Aside from Abadiano, the team also added one of the most prolific scorers in Iloilo, Jefrey “Mr. Excitement” Espinosa.
Espinosa’s debut in the league will make them a more offense-oriented team with Abadiano beside him.
We just don’t know, but I expect Malditos’ Abadiano and Espinosa to create a formidable 1-2 punch in the league, if not the best.
Mainstays Jhed Paquingan and Jeric Dequilla will be alongside the dynamic duo to help revamp Malditos’ faith in season II.
Honestly, this one is tough to rate but looking into the other side, team Malditos is a system-based team that runs their sets faithfully, and I think that Abadiano and Espinosa will take a few games before getting their grip within it.
Also, I think availability issues won’t be a major concern but can be considered as a factor.
Is the team sure that these two will always be present in all of their games? If it would go that way, it will be a major turn-around for the team, knowing that they have two of the most elite scorers Iloilo has seen.
Lastly, will Abadiano and Espinosa work hand-in-hand? Time will tell of the two ball-dominant players manage to jell with each other as well as the team’s style of play.
Will there be someone who will adjust to make the system easy? Or will they make the system worse?
My rating for team Malditos’ new roster would be “Nay”, not because the Abadiano-Espinosa addition was off, but because they still need time to jell together and to figure out each other’s spots.
Let’s continue tomorrow in part II of the JB ABL team run-down!