Sonny Cabatu on present-day Ginebra: 'Ayaw magulo buhok, naka-gel yata eh'
Former Ginebra player Sonny Cabatu obviously doesn't like what he sees in the present-day Kings. "Tignan mo si Tim Cone, ang laki na nang tinanda. Isipin mo lagi siyang nasa finals, ngayon lagi siyang out. Halata mong dinadamdam na ni Tim eh." Jerome Ascano

BARANGAY Ginebra fans are once again left puzzled on what ails their star-studded team after another disappointing campaign in the PBA.

But former Ginebra bruiser Sonny Cabatu didn't hold back on pointing out the many things that's holding down the league's most popular ballclub.

For one, the outspoken Cabatu reiterated Ginebra's lack of an outside gunner who can help free up the paint for their towering frontcourt under coach Tim Cone's pet triangle offense.

“Noon ko pa sinasabi sa'yo na kulang sa shooter ang Ginebra. Matatandaan mo yung ibang team na hinawakan ni Tim Cone, may mga shooter talaga. Sa Ginebra ngayon, mas madalas gwardya nila isolation pa rin,” said Cabatu.

“Dapat maisip nung mga gwardya nila na kaya binalik sa'yo nila (Greg) Slaughter at Japeth (Aguilar), libre ka. Itira mo,” he pointed out.

[See Jaworski not giving up on Ginebra, but says one thing lacking in underachieving Kings]

The quarterfinal exit should also signal the start of a changing of the guard at Ginebra, according to Cabatu who said the team's veterans should start accepting diminished roles in the system.

“Dapat kumuha sila ng shooter at bata. Si (Jayjay) Helterbrand, dapat last year pa nag-retire yan. Si (Mark) Caguioa, wala na rin yan. Dapat nga hindi ganun kahaba ang playing time nyan. Dapat ibigay na sa mas bata at shooter at mas malalaki,” he said.

“At his age, dapat hindi na ganun kahaba ang oras niya, [pero] last game napanood ko, ang tagal niya [naglaro],” added the 1985 top pick overall of the PBA rookie draft.

According to Cabatu, the refusal by the Kings' old guard to adapt to the times is exactly why Cone's triangle offense system continues to bog down.

“Nagkakanya-kanya sila eh. Makikita mo minsan yung triangle offense nila, hindi ma-i-apply. Hindi katulad nung mga dating team ni Cone, sunod na sunod talaga. Ayun, nag-champion at nag-grand slam pareho,” he said, pointing to Alaska and Purefoods.

“Mahirap kasi dyan, nananaig yung interest ng players na sila ang sisikat. 'Ako muna bago ikaw.’ Ganung attitude, wala talagang mangyayari.”

“Kahit sampung taon si Tim Cone dyan, kung ganyan ng ganyan, kanya-kanya, walang mangyayari. Tignan mo si Tim Cone, ang laki na nang tinanda. Isipin mo lagi siyang nasa finals, ngayon lagi siyang out. Halata mong dinadamdam na ni Tim eh. Lagi siyang namumula at lagi na rin siya nagwawala sa game,” added Cabatu.

The Cabugao, Ilocos Sur native also could not help but compare the present Ginebra roster to their batch in the early 90’s - a team that failed to win a championship but was beloved by fans for the fight and the pride they showed.

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Cabatu played three seasons for Ginebra from 1992 to 1995.

“Kami kasi noon, kahit wala kaming player, todo laro namin. Kaya malimit, nakakabulag kami. Isipin mo nga, yung team namin noon, walang wala. Ngayon parang All-Star ang lineup nila, pero laging bigo,” he said.

“Mahina lineup namin nun, kaya di kami nag champion sa Ginebra. Pero bawat game nuon, nilalaban talaga namin ng patayan sa court.

“Yung Ginebra kasi ngayon mga players parang ayaw magulo ang buhok. Mga naka-gel ata,” added Cabatu before bursting into laughter.

[See Guiao believes it's only a matter of time before Cone tastes success at Ginebra]

Cabatu is also well aware of the frustration of the fans who have been longing for another championship for the past eight years, which is why he hopes Ginebra players must take this as a challenge.

“Kita mo mga fans ng Ginebra, after every conference na bigo sila, puro, ‘Bawi next conference’ ang mababasa mo. Sana isipin nila na pwedeng mapagod at magsawa rin mga yan,” he said.

“Pag ganyan kasi na sobrang paghihintay, lumilipat na rin sa ibang team yung iba eh. Purefoods, madami ng fans, San Miguel, dumadami rin. Rain or Shine pa. Di ba nila napapansin yung pagnipis ng bilang ng nanunuod sa kanila? Dun pa lang maalarma na dapat sila,” he said.

Longtime Ginebra fan Eva Soriano agreed with Cabatu.

 “Oo nga po eh. Yan din ang dilemma namin as fans. Kasi every conference, aasa kami. Proud na proud kami, tapos kakapusin in the end, sobrang nakakalungkot,” said Soriano.

“Buti sana kung sakit lang ng pagkatalo iniinda namin, eh ngayong time ng social media, double knockout kami, kasi grabe kaming i-bash ng fans ng ibang team.”

“Sana naman, dumating yung time na kami naman ulit ang magsasaya tapos papatunayan naming hindi kami nagkamali sa pagsuporta sa team namin. Kasi hangga’t maari gusto namin, maramdaman nila (players) yung suporta at pagmamahal namin,” she added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @snowbadua