What to look for in the MVP Cup
(SUPREME LOVE FOR VIRGIN MARY: The week-long National Marian Days in Lipa—Sept. 7-14—will be highlighted by a National Day of Prayer on Saturday, September 12. Lined up on specific days during the holy celebration are a fluvial procession, Marian motorcade, pilgrimage, veneration of Marian images, Mass healing, film showings, floral offerings by poor families, lecture on Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, crowning of the Blessed Virgin, many more. A dawn procession from the San Sebastian Cathedral on Saturday will be followed by a Eucharistic celebration at the Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace Shrine to be officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Ramon Arguelles. The week-long celebration coincides with the 4th Asia Oceania Mariological Conference. A thanksgiving and farewell dinner will be hosted by Dr. Bobby Magsino.)
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Will there be a tune-up, a rediscovery process, or both?
There has been no announced main purpose for the MVP Cup tournament, which fires off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday.
But to concerned fans who continued to wonder about the commitment and exact form of naturalized Andray Blatche, the mini-tournament should help bare if the truant NBA veteran would properly fit into the Gilas Pilipinas team set-up in time for the Fiba-Asia championship in Hunan, China, starting later this month.
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For one, Blatche’s absence in the Jones Cup tournament left everybody wondering if the naturalized team pillar of Gilas Pilipinas could be of help in limiting the dominant Iranian giant Hamed Haddadi.
There will be no player of Haddadi’s size and stature in the MVP Cup. But there should be an inkling how Blatche, a forward-center, could stand up to Haddadi. The two, whose paths are expected to cross in the Fiba Asia championship, perform slot chores differently. Haddadi, a towering facilitator, is a pure center who often operates with his back to the goal. Blatche, a reliable scorer and rebounder, is a frontal attacker who always has his nose pointed toward the basket.
There seemed no problem in the area of of spirit and dedication; the entire Gilas bench has gained its red badge of courage with the national team’s unflinching stand against tall, rugged, bullying opponents in the Taipei series.
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There were cracks in teammanship and defense.
But it’s the team artillery, mainly from the perimeter, that clearly needed patching, if not serious repairs.
While Jimmy Alapag had proved a sensation in the Fiba World Cup in Spain last year, he was not even a shadow of his great self during the Taipei Jones Cup tournament won by Iran.
With the injured Alapag out of the national line-up, there quietly rose hopes for a great shooter to emerge overnight to hopefully take charge in the forthcoming Fiba Asia tournament.
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Gilas could’ve finished solidly against Iran in the last Jones Cup series if any of its perimeter gunners was able to connect in the clutches, specifically in the two instances when the Nationals were able to cut down Iran’s lead to four points in the final quarter.
It was very frustrating to home fans how designated gunners continued to shoot blanks in the critical wind-up.
With Alapag out of commission and one-time shooting hope Gary David no longer with the Nationals, how does Gilas hope to remedy its severe scoring anemia during the Fiba Asia championship?
If coach Tad Baldwin, for example, has a secret scoring weapon, will he dare expose him for local fans to have a sneak view during the MVP Cup?
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