I think I am a fan of Converge now.
I still like the PBA over the teams (much like I am a fan of the Philippines over any other political affiliation) but I guess I have some affinity for the FiberXers.
I have been doing things with NCAA for some time now and needless to say, I am rooting for Justin Arana, Jeo Ambohot, and JM Calma. As a former UST AB-Communication Arts student, I am rooting for the Northport Growling Tigers. With Greg Slaughter and Troy Rike "enjoying" their PBA sabbatical, JM Calma is going to have an opportunity to strut his wares.
With that said, the future looks bright for both Arana and Ambohot especially if Converge takes care of them. The last time this genealogy had rookies of this magnitude, Alaska decided to part ways with JR Quinahan and Ken Bono during the baby stages of their careers. While Quinahan would find success under Yeng Guiao's mentorship, Bono could have used a team to nurture his growth.
When Converge pulled a stunner on Magnolia, Justin Arana had better numbers as compared to Ambohot. Arana finished with 9 points, 12 rebounds, and a steal in nearly 32 minutes of action while Ambohot only had 2 boards and an assist in almost 13 minutes. Looking at the game highlights though, Ambohot had his moments during the team's third-quarter run - highlighted by his drive and draw move en route to a Ben Adamos assist.
People turned on Converge when they shipped Robbie Herndon for picks. I thought Converge did well here because the rise of Herndon happened because Alaska lost a bunch of players and had no choice but to test their bench. Losing Herndon and Abu Tratter - if he continues his absence - will give Converge's young stars a chance to shine.
As it stands, Jeron Teng is featured in a role similar to his DLSU days, and Adamos and RK Ilagan have had their moments. They are also giving Arana and Ambohot a free rein to evolve. Arana played boss ball for the Arellano Chiefs so having him play a lot of minutes could push his averages even higher. Meanwhile, Ambohot is okay being part of an ensemble - like the one he had with the two-time champs, Letran Knights. Ambohot will find a way to get his numbers, although Converge needs to trust his process.
Anyway, this is how to rebuild or restart a winning basketball formula. Jeffrey Cariaso witnessed this firsthand when Tim Cone joined B-Meg to dismantle their tight-knit squad. I definitely believe that Abu Tratter is going to be used as trade bait the moment he returns so Ambohot, Arana, Adamos, and rookie Tyrus Hill could flourish further. I think Ahanmisi may also find himself in the same position - but Converge also needs to pad their backcourt. Kurt Lojera's stock will take a hit with the return of Ahanmisi but competition will also make his case stronger (if he improves).
Most definitely though, I can't see Converge keeping a lot of their big men, especially with the way Cariaso is positively influencing his players.
When I said Converge reminds me a lot of 1988 Purefoods Hotdogs, I am not kidding.