The original date of the blog: July 18, 2011
It was a rocky relationship, to begin with. It had a predictable ending but everyone was turning a deaf ear. In the end, the Barangay Ginebra Kings have decided to trade Willie F'N Miller to the Air21 Express for KG Canaleta and for the Kings’ 2012 draft pick.
According to the tweets of Patricia Hizon and blogger extraordinaire Fire Quinito plus the post from the GMA News Online and the Interaksyon websites, the possible cause for this parting is because of Miller’s depleted playing time.
Let’s break down his 2010-11 PBA season:
In the Philippine Cup, Miller was third in the team in points (13.1ppg), was tied for second in steals (0.9spg), and led the team in assists (4.0apg). He also had 4.7 rebounds as he played in all of Ginebra’s 23 games with an average playing time of 32.5mpg. By the way, he ranks first in the team in minutes of that conference.
In the Commissioner’s Cup, Thriller’s minutes went down from 32.5mpg to 23mpg. He still averaged in double figures but he finished the conference with 10.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.0apg, and 0.4spg. His outputs were MIA in the finals against the Talk N Text Tropang Texters and because of his inability to produce his usual numbers, John Wilson, Rob Labagala, and JC Intal saw action, and unsurprisingly upstaged him in all aspects.
In the Governor’s Cup, Miller was good for only 4 games, and in 15.5 minutes (almost an eight-minute drop), Miller averaged only 2.5 points, 2 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 0.3 steals. Miller was lost in the shuffle because Mark Caguioa has a much more solid game and guys like Wilson, Intal, Ronald Tubid, Mike Cortez, and a returning Jayjay Helterbrand are providing better support for the squad.
At least now Jong Uichico chose the better player to man his shooting guard spot. Fans troop behind Mark Caguioa because while The Spark may be cocky but he backs his words up. Miller at one point had a bunch of endgame miscues that gave him no love from the Ginebra faithful. It was his request to be traded out of Alaska because he hates the fact that he is the main man of the Aces. The pressure’s on for Thriller and the jolly scorer hates that scenario. He left the Aces after locker room "things" with Rosell Ellis and Diamon Simpson. Tim Cone would have loved for Miller to stay but having Cyrus Baguio in the lineup makes Miller’s absence unimportant.
Curiously, Baguio is enjoying the minutes Miller had in Alaska – which actually solves Baguio’s former Ginebra issue where he was begging the squad for additional playing time.
With Miller in the Express, Air21 gains the offensive firepower they still lack. Having Miller, Danny Seigle, and Dondon Hontiveros is never a bad thing although the pressing need for the squad is to bolster up their frontcourt.
The trade would be beneficial for Ginebra though especially since Miller is coming from the injured list when the trade happened. The loss of Enrico Villanueva to injury and Rudy Hatfield to... other US-related endeavors left the Kings with a huge void in the middle. Unfortunately for the Kings, KG Canaleta is not a post-up threat and despite his height is not a strong rebounding player. But in the long run, his presence will still play a big part in the Kings’ semifinal campaign.
Fact is, with Uichico hoping for his rookies to develop well, Miller became expendable. Miller has been thrown to his third team in two seasons and if that Governor’s Cup run is an indication of things to come, then Miller leaving the Kings camp is the best decision for his career.
I can still see a couple of years left on The Thriller... depending on how seriously he takes his career.
For those keeping count, bouncing from team to team proved to be the slow death of Vergel Meneses’ and Bong Alvarez’s pro careers.
And yeah... the 2012 first-round pick the Kings got alongside Canaleta is basically a slam dunk. Ginebra could have gotten Vic Manuel... but at least they were able to claim Chris "Air Force" Ellis.