RETURNING coach Ato Agustin is keen to make the most of Barangay Ginebra’s quick, athletic guards and wingmen by playing a more up-tempo style when the Kings try to redeem themselves in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Kings spent their first day of practice of the new year under Agustin doing mostly non-basketball activities designed to put the players in the best shape possible under conditioning coach Kirk Collier.
The popular ballclub will need to be in top shape if they hope to run and gun again after two conferences under former coach Jeff Cariaso and his triangle offense.
“Iyun (run-and-gun) na talaga kami, kaya sabi ko sa conditioning coach, i-kundisyon talaga sila (Gin Kings) dahil gusto ko rin mag-pressure at gusto ko, may konting physicality ng game at banggaan,” Agustin told Spin.ph after the team’s two-hour practice at the Green Meadows gym in Libis, Quezon City on Monday.
Best remembered for steering San Miguel to the Governors Cup championship in 2011 that denied Talk 'N Text of a grand slam, Agustin returned to the job he handled for three conferences after replacing Al Chua.
Under Cariaso, the Kings tried to adopt the triangle offense, a more intricate system which obviously didn’t fit a team which failed to get past the quarterfinals in two conferences under the Fil-Am coach.
Agustin said for the next three weeks up leading to the midseason tournament that opens on January 27, he will slowly reintroduce the players to his run-and-gun system, which he felt worked well with Ginebra when it fell one win short of barging into the 2014 Philippine Cup Finals.
The 51-year-old Ginebra coach believed the system it ran in last season’s Philippine Cup only needed a little tweaking.
“Yung nangyari kasi last year, 'yung game namin against San Mig (now Purefoods Star), siguro dun kami kukuha ng kung ano dapat namin i-adjust, kasi nag-seven games 'yun (in the semifinals) at halos 'yun din ang lineup namin,” recalled Agustin.
“Si (rookie forward) Rodney (Brondial) lang naman nadagdag dito, then si Joseph (Yeo) na na-handle ko sa San Miguel. Sana mag-work.”
Ginebra isn’t lacking in athletic, open-court players, considering its backcourt only got deeper after acquiring Yeo before the start of the season.
Aside from Yeo, who also thrives in the open court, LA Tenorio is also expected to revert to setting up his teammates more, while veterans Jayjay Helterbrand, Mark Caguioa, Josh Urbiztondo and high-flying Chris Ellis can help jack up the team’s fastbreak numbers.
Agustin, however, cautioned the Kings from being too excited over the return to the run-and-gun system, saying at the end of the day, what will bring a championship to Ginebra is hardwork and everybody’s desire to embrace their respective roles.
“Sabi ko nga, kailangan din namin ng cooperation ng mga players. Sabi ko na kailangan naming maging disciplined at mag-sacrifice, kasi alam natin na ang Ginebra, talented mga players. Everybody can score, pero kailangan nating mag-sacricifice para manalo,” he added.
For the moment, Agustin said the team still has to discuss who its import will be for the tournament, though it intends to bring in someone who can play well at the post and defend.