Alaska gave in to Willie Miller. After two years of demanding to be transferred, he finally got his wish. But is this really the right team for the Thriller?
The house of Pinoy basketball just got rocked following the agreement reached by the Barangay Ginebra Kings and the Alaska Aces... more or less 12 years ago.
Again, this is a blast from the past article, in which I break down the events that transpired from way back.
Anyway, the former two-time MVP got shipped to the dugout of the crowd favorites in exchange for Cyrus Baguio.
The trade is set for the enjoyment of both players. Miller is probably feeling that the triangle offense restricts him to do more inside the court. The jolly spitfire also reportedly got the ire of import Diamon Simpson for goofing off in practice. This is not the first time this incident has happened. A couple of years back, Rosell Ellis had the same beef with the Thriller but they eventually ironed things out and the Aces won the championship (although Ellis’ second stint with the Aces had dismal results).
You see, Alaska and B-MEG started the Fiesta Conference late (they were the last two teams to debut in the said Fiesta Cup) and the Aces will play twice-a-week games on a consistent basis beginning May 1. I usually pick Miller during the playoffs but I needed the boost on points. I was looking forward to acquiring Miller’s abundant supply of points, rebounds, and assists gains but following the trade, I doubt it will happen.
Oh yeah, back then there was this online game called PBFantasy - and it's probably the precursor to most people's fantasy basketball addiction back then. The game's height was short-lived but up to this day, I use its multiplier on how I rank my all-time stat leaders.
Anyway, during the Philippine Cup, I noticed that Alaska fails to impress whenever the Thriller had big numbers. When he goes on his superstar mode where he takes the shots he wants to take, the triangle offense stops becoming a triangle, and Miller Time ensues.
During the 2009-10 PBA Philippine Cup, Alaska has six players scoring eight points and more. If his big numbers can’t help the Aces win, then Willie Miller could not probably be the right fit for Alaska.
But Cyrus Baguio could be that guy.
Ever since he was traded to Ginebra, Skyrus has been pleading for playing time. Should he always wait for Mark Caguioa to get injured? Baguio was sent to the Kings because he was reportedly upset in his tenure as a Burger King Whopper. The former UST Growling Tiger was a second-round pick by Red Bull in 2003 and he was fourth in the rotation after Lordy Tugade, Larry Fonacier, and Junthy Valenzuela. He barely played during his rookie year but he persevered and became the team's main scorer.
When during Tugade, Valenzuela, Fonacier, and Enrico Villanueva left the squad, it was Baguio who stepped up. In the 2007-08 season, he played in 48 games and averaged 18.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.7apg, and 1.3spg. Baguio had less help on offense that season (Valenzuela was traded to the Kings and Mick Pennisi struggled). What’s great was this ragtag core made the semifinals twice that year and finished with identical third-place honors.
Baguio wasn’t like his Ginebra version back then. He normed almost 30 minutes so he wasn’t shot-crazy unlike when he was with the Gins where he played a little over 20 minutes… depending on Jong Uichico’s mood.
Baguio, if given the minutes, can lead a team.
Alaska is not a ragtag team. It has a system and a roster dedicated to winning championships. It has a winning tradition and a bunch of Hall of Famers (that will include Willie Miller) connected to their rich history. I just wished Alaska asked for a couple of benchwarmers from the Kings though. At that point in the 2010 Fiesta Conference, Miller was averaging 17.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0spg, and 4.5apg in 35.5mpg while Cyrus was getting 9.2ppg, 1.4rpg, and 1.8apg in 24.0mpg. I think Ginebra could hand out a second-round draft pick or Junjun Cabatu or Paolo Bugia (both have yet to see action this season). But then again, this is an okay one-for-one deal because Baguio is lucky to even get those kinds of stats with the way Ginebra treats their slashers.
I actually did well in this prediction.
Initially, I thought this deal extremely favored the Kings but looking back, Miller acquired the same problem as Baguio. Miller slowly went from starter to super-sub because of his shenanigans. With Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, and Ronald Tubid leading the charge, Miller's minutes aren't assured. Meanwhile, Alaska got a great leader-type player in Skyrus. In the same conference, Baguio would help Alaska win the 2010 Fiesta Conference. Alongside LA Tenorio, Baguio would also score his first and only Finals MVP award. Up until his contract extension year in 2016, Baguio would become a fixture in Alaska's winning ways.
In fact, Baguio would help the Aces win their first title sans Tim Cone in the 2013 PBA Commissioner's Cup against the team that traded him. And while Baguio had a hand in that Alaska title, Miller was then packaged in a five team-deal that sent LA Tenorio to Ginebra. Afterwards, it was the beginning of the end of Miller's superstar status as he bounced from team to team - pingponged five times up until 2015.