Showing posts with label basketball. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basketball. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

On basketball statistics

The NBA Finals is coming to a conclusion this week with the Golden State Warriors having two chances of winning their first title in 40 years. That is, of course, if they are able to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers one more time. I was watching the NBA Premium Channel, which featured a show with analysts (including former NBA players) discussing the performances of the two teams and their major players. One statistic that was often mentioned was the number of triple double performances of the Cavs superstar player Lebron James.

I have nothing againts Lebron James and not to take away anything from his really splendid performance in the Finals but his 6 triple doubles are really a matter of necessity considering he doesn't have a good supporting cast in the Cavs. To be compared to Magic Johnson (8 triple doubles) and Larry Bird (2 triple doubles) is misleading. This is because those two had superb players in their teams. Magic didn't need to score and rebound a lot because he had players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Jamaal Wilkes, AC Green, Kurt Rambis and others in his team. The same goes with Bird since he shared the scoring, rebounding and assisting with the likes of Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge. And we aren't even talking about Michael Jordan and his teammates with the Chicago Bulls (e.g., Dennis Rodman was averaging above 15 rebounds per game. Did James have to do what he's doing if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were playing and 100% healthy?

Stats really have to be placed in the proper context especially when people compare players. One player can appear to be dominating but that maybe because of the circumstances rather than because he really is a dominating player. It's been shown before that players with such stats would not necessarily translate into titles. Lebron learned that the hard way with the Cavs when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs and their team ball many years ago.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lessons from basketball

The San Antonio Spurs won their 5th NBA title last Monday (Sunday in the US). I would say that I was very happy for them. They were not my team. I was even rooting for Dallas in the first round of the playoffs. But I started rooting for them in this season after they overcame the Mavericks in 7 games. To me, it looked like they were on to something and their play epitomised the teamwork necessary to beat teams that usually featured 1-2 or 1-2-3 punches. The spurs were more like 1-2-3-4-5 and then some punches. Not as strong as the 1-2 or 1-2-3 but with 12 guys could really put the hurt on another team. That was what they did to their opponents in the Western Conference Finals who had that 1-2 combination, and that was what took it to beat the Miami Heat (1-2-3 and possibly a 4) in the Finals.

We were joking about the Western Conference Finals that featured the Oklahoma City Thunder agains the Spurs. People were jokingly referring to the latter as "Tanders," which sounded like "thunder" but was an allusion to the ageing line-up of the Spurs. Tim Duncan alone has put in 15 seasons of basketball and is probably the only player who's won NBA titles in three (yes, 3) different decades. 30-somethings are already "old" in a very competitive league that features much physicality. But then the Spurs gave their opponents a lesson in basketball and to some extent, life. They played basic basketball with the movement, passing, and shooting that was how the game was supposed to be played. It was not a case of "me" but of "we" for this team that didn't have the egos or superstar complexes you'd see in other teams. Their 1-2-3 were at least par or inferior to other teams with similar big threes or big twos and their crew was eventually what made the difference in their match-ups.

I think this teamwork is very much applicable to life in general as there are many activities or tasks where teamwork or working together with a group is important in order to accomplish your objectives. Perhaps that is what sets aside certain people we regard as leaders as they can involve other people and make them perform better sometimes even with his/her presence alone. Talent alone does not lead to success. Otherwise, the Thunder and Heat teams could have simply steamrolled against the Spurs. Michael Jordan realised that in the 80's and had to have and involve the Bulls teammates that he had in the 1990's to win championships. Of course, the Lakers, Celtics and Pistons teams of the 1980's also demonstrated the value of teamwork and it is clear that their results are testaments to this lesson.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Historic moment in Philippine basketball

I take a timeout from the usual posts on travel, transport and food to feature an important moment in the history of basketball in the Philippines. Last night, despite very tough opposition in a strong team from Korea, the Philippines national basketball team emerged victorious and qualified for the FIBA World Championships to be held in Spain next year 2014. The last time the country qualified for the World Championships was in the middle of the 1980's when a team that included the cream of the crop then plus a few naturalized players was able to top Asia for the last time.

Until that time, the country had a fierce rivalry with Korea for the top place in Asia. Afterwards saw the rise of China as a basketball power in Asia. Later, during the last decade, saw the emergence of teams from the Middle East and the former Soviet Republics in Asia, who had the size and eventually the skills to dominate teams from East Asia. These teams have been lording it over the competition and have become even stronger with players competing professionally in Europe and the NBA. Meanwhile, the Philippines, which prides itself as the only Asian country to medal in the FIBA World Championships (a bronze in 1954) and whose national past time has been basketball has not had a player in Europe or the NBA; the last being a dream for many.

The victory last night against Korea was especially sweet given the historic rivalry between the countries. That history has included a lot of heartbreaking losses to Korean teams including close ones in the 1970's. The last major victory of a Philippine team over Korea was probably in 1967 for the gold medal if that year's FIBA Asian championships. That team, which fielded among other popular players one Robert Jaworski, defeated another Korean team that also featured some superstars particularly one Shin Dong Pa, who was a sharpshooter who was so good he could probably beat teams by himself. There are so many stories about the match between the teams that I will just leave it for the reader to research these online.

Of course, the game last night was just the semi-finals of a tournament that featured a major upset in China not making the final four for the first time in more than two decades. It was sort of an irony that the Chinese team was beaten by an inspired team from Chinese Taipei or Taiwan. The Philippine team dropped a game to Chinese Taipei during the tournament's first round but that proved to be a blessing as it avoided meeting Korea or Iran early in the knock-out phase of the tourney. And so the Philippine team now faces Iran in the finals after Korea took the last qualifying spot by beating Chinese Taipei in the bronze medal game. Win or lose, the Philippines has already qualified for the 2014 World Championships but it would definitely be great if we were to win it all and on our home court.