IN the eyes of a former Ginebra player, it will take more than another coaching overhaul to arrest the popular team's seven-year title drought.
Former Gin King Silverio 'Bennett' Palad said the attitude of the players and the obvious lack of camaraderie within the team are the reason Ginebra continues to endure one heartbreaking campaign after another.
“Nawawala yung puso ng bawat player. Hindi ko alam ha, pero tingin ko parang nag-iinggitan kung sino ang bida,” said Palad, part of icon Robert Jaworski's Ginebra team from 1991 to 1993.
“Hindi balanced yung team nila… masyadong madaming superstars. Wala silang role players. Walang kanya-kanyang role. Lahat sila gustong shooter… lahat gustong gumawa,” he added.
Palad explained that during their time, every Ginebra player knows his role in the team, so much so that his role was clearly defined by Jaworski the moment he joined the league's most popular ballclub.
“Nung time ko kasi nun, kasikatan nila Dondon (Ampalayo), Rudy Distrito at Dante (Gonzalgo). Kaya alam ko agad ang role ko nun. Ang maging role player,” said the native of Tayabas, Quezon.
“Kahit si Dante noong araw, gumagawa yun pero alam niya na role player lang talaga siya,” added Palad.
Palad, now coach of the Manila Taytana (formerly Manila Doctors team), had a ready answer when asked to compare the old Ginebra to the present crop of players in the team.
“Ang tingin ko kasi pag hindi nagamit yung isa sa kanila, sumasama ang loob. Gusto kasi umiskor, nawawala yung ‘as a team’ hindi ko alam kung may camaraderie sila sa isa’t isa,” said the former UST star.
“Noon kasi kami, buo kami as a team. Pati mga asa-asawa namin magkakilala.”
Is the never-say-die spirit of Ginebra gone, Palad was asked.
“Hindi na katulad ng dati. Kasi dati kahit tambak kami, pinipilit naming habulin, pinipilit naming manalo,” he said.
A former Philip Sardines star in the now defunct PBL, Palad said Jaworski's Ginebra sides mostly had ragtag lineups, yet managed to win crucial games.
“Yung team naman namin nuon hindi ganun kalakas, dahil wala kaming masyadong malalaki, di ba?” said Palad, who owns Trinitom Trading (now BJPal Trading) in Northview, Quezon City which sells household and industrial cleaning material.
“Yung time namin, lahat naman kami puro star… pero alam namin kung sino ang mas superstar. Star din ako sa UST bago ako pumasok sa Ginebra. Pero alam ko kung san ako lalagay,” he said.
Palad, who has just returned from a five-year stint as Brunei coach, even found Rain or Shine closer to the old Ginebra than the present Kings.
“Yung Rain or Shine, parang sila ang Ginebra nuong araw eh. Sa mga players, sila kasi yung hindi bumibitaw ngayon,” said Palad, who admits to being a die-hard Ginebra supporter up to now.
“Ang samahan kasi ng Rain or Shine, built around the team. Sa isang team, pag at home ka sa kakampi mo… alam mo ang galaw ng kakampi mo. And vice versa, alam ng kakampi mo ang galaw mo,” he said.
“Sa Ginebra hindi ganun, minsan makikita mo… libre na yung isa pero ayaw ipasa eh. Minsan, ipapasa pag gipit na. Parang nauuna yung personal na agenda. Hindi yung kapakanan ng team,” observed Palad.
Will this present set-up at Ginebra translate into a championship in the next two years?
“Ay hindi. Mahihirapan tayo pag ganun. Pero kung titignan mo pwede namang mag-champion eh. Kailangan lang talagang magkausap sila at ma-define ang role ng bawat isa. Hindi pwedeng lahat star,” said Palad.