Thursday, June 6, 2024

Talking NBA Basketball with K

Right around the middle of the Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Clippers series in the first round of the NBA playoffs, a friend, K, sent me a direct message. K said she'd started watching NBA basketball last season, and called herself "a basic Golden State Warriors fan." She said she really enjoyed how the defending champs Denver Nuggets played too, and wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the game. I looked forward to chatting about basketball with her, of course.

I wouldn't call myself an expert on basketball, but I'm Filipino -- we are the biggest basketball fans outside the United States -- which means as a teen I've played a lot of backyard basketball in flip-flops during summer vacations under the scorching Philippine sun (even the power forward position despite only standing five feet five, LOL) and watched both the PBA and the NBA as early as I could remember, thanks to my basketball-crazed father. Those backyard basketball games in high school became games in the university gymnasium in college (but this time in high-top basketball sneakers, lol) and, eventually, weekend pickup basketball as a weekend warrior with coworkers. By that time I couldn't jump as high to snare a rebound like I had been doing back in high school, but I could shoot the three better. My old-man basketball moves were in full bloom.

These days I don't play full-on five-on-five or three-on-three anymore, but I sometimes shoot hoops alone in the community court; that is, when there are no kids using the court for futsal. Here in Mexico it's normal to see basketball courts being used for futsal. I'm no longer in the Philippines after all.

But back to my conversation with K. I felt I had something to say about basketball, yes, and so I found myself answering her questions as best I could. It was fun, chewing the fat (as Holden Caulfield liked to put it) with my friend and putting on my (pretentious) basketball expert's hat. 

Today is the morning of the first day of the NBA finals, and my team, the Dallas Mavericks, will face the highly favored Boston Celtics at the TD Garden. I feel like I would need to blog about the finals when all is said and done -- win or lose for my Mavs -- so I will need to wear my (pretentious) basketball expert's hat yet again. For now, though, I'm sharing the conversation I had with K. 

***

Me:  Wow, I'm so happy that you're trying to understand basketball more! Please feel free to message me if you have questions, I'll try my best to help. 

K: Is Rudy Gobert classic na center na pareho ni Shaq, Mark? Nagsige bitaw ko ug tan-aw ug analysis sa game ni Rudy ba, and na-amaze ko sa thought of a player being so formidable that murag maglikay ang opponents from attacking the basket or mu-settle na lang sa difficult or likely to be unsuccessful shots. Of course, I have so much to learn and other interrelated concepts to understand. Haha.

M: Yes classic center nga murag si Shaq. But without the post-up skills. Haha. Nowadays it's common to see stretch bigs, which means they can stretch the defense all the way to the 3-point line coz they can shoot the 3. Rudy stays in his lane, he mostly plays inside.

K: Si Jokić kay stretch big, no? Ang emergence of stretch bigs ba, is that also because of changes sa NBA rules, so ni-evolve out of necessity ang bigs?

M: One reason I became a Dallas fan was because of Dirk Nowitzki, and he was one of the original stretch bigs even before the 3-point revolution changed the NBA. Yup, Jokic is a stretch big. A lot of those stretch bigs originally came from Europe, actually. I guess it's a little bit of both, more stretch bigs were brought in as scoring from the outside became more of a necessity, and the kids in college who would have traditionally stayed in the paint started to develop their outside shooting.

K: Kanang magsige ug balhin ug superteams, Mark, ba, is that okay? I’ve observed nga silang LeBron, James Harden, ug KD get hate for that.

M: In 2007, LeBron's first finals series with the Cavs, they played the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs. Of course they were swept; that was one of the greatest Spurs teams of all time. But at that time I was rooting for LeBron. I felt bad when they got swept. My point is, I had never always been a LeBron hater. It started when, a couple of years after that sweep by the Spurs, he moved to the Heat. But what made that worse was the way his camp chose to announce it, which was a "special" on ESPN titled "The Decision." You can't imagine the number of LeBron jerseys burned in Cleveland that night. So shortly after that, LeBron, Wade, and Bosh -- Miami's Big 3 -- went on a press conference, with LeBeon predicting that they were going to win, and I quote, "Not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6 . . ." championships. They won 2.

They have the right to form superteams. They can do whatever the hell they want. But I'm of the old-school belief that you don't join your rivals. You destroy them.

Reggie Miller once said that if Michael Jordan called him to team up (impossible, MJ wouldn't do such a thing, lol) that he would've told him to fuck himself.

For me two of the greatest championship teams were the 2004 Pistons and the 2011 Mavs. The Pistons, who had no single All-Star player in their roster, defeated the powerhouse Lakers with Kobe and Shaq. The Mavericks, led by a n aging Dirk Nowitzki and veteran players who could have retired already (lol), beat the then newly formed Big 3 of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. It's just more impressive if a non-superteam wins the championship against one, and I imagine it means more to the players too.

I think you just put a target on your back if you're a franchise player-caliber player in the mold of a Durant, Harden and you choose the easy way out by teaming up instead of being patient and letting the front office cook and try to assemble a championship-ready team.

And it doesn't always work out. Look at Durant. He left Golden State and teamed up with Kyrie and Harden in Brooklyn. The team imploded. The supposed Big 3 of Durant, Booker, and Beal got recently swept by the Wolves, a young team that's been assembled organically.

When the Warriors won their rings before Durant arrived, all of their best players were drafted. Those players grew organically as a team. There weren't no shortcuts. Same with the MJ-led bulls, same with the Murray and Jokic Nuggets, same with the Middleton and Antetokounmpo Bucks.

Like I said, any superstar is free to recruit other superstars and create a superteam. It's their right. But there should be no complaining when it doesn't work out, like this most recent example of Durant, Beal, and Booker getting swept in the first round. There shouldn't be any excuses.

K: Speaking of hate, Mark, unsa ang legit na basic list of things to dislike about LeBron?  I know a bit about the flopping, whining about refs’ calls, and then trying to get someone fired (like si Spo) from the team, but I missed so many years of basketball, so dili complete ang picture sa akong brain.

Also, where are you sa MJ versus Bron nga debate about kinsa gyud ang GOAT? Maka-read ko sometimes on social media ug mga insinuations nga maskin pa nagsige ug break ug records kay dili daw ilhon si LeBron nga GOAT kay even until now, the NBA capitalizes on Jordan’s reputation  and that, from a business standpoint, kay there will be bad implications if mapulihan si Jordan. (Sadly, kalimot ko asa ko na napunit na assertion.)

Naka-read ko recently na ang combined bayad sa Suns na big 3 kay $150 million, which is more than or equal to the budget of fourteen NBA teams. Unsa mahitabo when an investment like that does not pay off right away?

M: Don't get me wrong, he's really great as a person. Hehe. He's given so much to the less fortunate and the black community. The things that I genuinely dislike about him as a BASKETBALL PLAYER:

1. Yes, he flops. Maglagot kaayo ko basta makakita ko sa iyang mga blatant flops. Lol

2. He destroys a franchise, in that he plays GM. That's why he's frequently called LeGM. He tinkers with the draft picks, the trades, to go into win-now mode, and when he leaves the team doesn't have enough flexibility to contend for the future (he is doing that to the Lakers now, and he did that to the Heat. Kudos to Spoelstra, who is one of the greatest coaches in the NBA, who kept Miami contending and in the playoffs even with a crappy players)

3. He, unlike Jordan, has always proclaimed himself the greatest player in NBA history. You don't do that. You let your peers do that.

4. That Decision thing with Cleveland, although credit to him, he went back to the Cavs and gave them their first and only championship 

5. Him trying to blackmail the Lakers indirectly to force them into drafting his son (lol)

Jordan>LeBron

1. Jordan has never lost an NBA finals series. He's 6 of 6.

2. Jordan has never played in a series that went 7 games.

3. Jordan has been both the MVP and in the all-defensive first team

4. They polled NBA players on who they think is the GOAT, and Jordan always wins vs. LeBron 

5. Wade was asked who he think is the GOAT. He didn't choose his former teammate. He said it's Jordan

Jordan's influence on the game will never change even if LeBron keeps breaking those records. Kareem had been the NBA's greatest scorer before Lebron broke his record, but he has never been considered greater than Jordan. Bll Russell has 11 rings, 5 more than Jordan. He has never been considered greater than Jordan.

That Phoenix thing, when the new owner took over, Mat Ishbia, he wanted to make a splash right away. Their GM, James Jones, had been doing a great job already of constructing the team. But I guess Ishbia was in win-now mode, so he pulled the trigger on the Durant trade, which cost him Mikal Bridges,  Cam Johnson -- two really solid, young NBA player -- plus 4 first round picks. He said even if it doesn't pan out, the trade for KD, it wouldn't have been a bad decision. Well, guess what. Phoenix is cash strapped, the Beal contract has a no-trade clause, and they don't have first-round picks until 2032. Ishbia should have been more prudent and left the decisions to Jones, his GM. Now his team is screwed. 

K: Kanang flopping ba, has it always been a thing sa NBA and wala kaayo ko nanghimantay, or is it because of the rule changes, mao nga players can get away with flops especially if they can sell those well?

As for destroying a franchise, wow. Why/how is LeBron allowed to hold so much power?

Ngano man convinced kaayo ang Suns owner na foolproof iyang decision? I could be wrong and not completely informed, but it doesn’t look like ilang big three kay enough to see the team through. They’re also terrible sa pag-survive ug fourth quarter. There is still something lacking sa ilang current roster, but I don’t know how to articulate it sa basketball language.

M: Before they changed the rules to favor offense, defenders usually held their own. You won't see flopping sa una. The closest you would get is trying to draw a charge or an offensive foul. But that isn't considered flipping. LeBron, love him or hate him, is a really good player. He's older now, but before at the height of his powers, he could change a team's fortunes. Other players sa una didn't take advantage of that power. LeBron, to his credit, recognized that he can control a team to the point nga manghilabot sya sa roster. He even had several coaches fired. Players nowadays can wield such power, especially the ones who have the talent to carry a team. It's really hard to win an NBA championship, so guess why there are teams willing to mortgage their future to win now.

Because KD, Booker, and Beal -- on paper -- should have enough offensive firepower on any given night to give your opponent fits. That is, if they can find a flow within the offense. But they didn't. It's like, your turn, my turn, his turn. You need fluidity in an offense, and they never found it in the regular season, and worse, in the playoffs.

In theory okay unta sya. But it didn't pan out. But we'll see, maybe they'll try to run it back with a new coach who can fix the team.

K: Nagtuo ko today na makadaog ang Denver and that they’d take advantage of Rudy’s absence, but no, that didn’t happen. Did Denver become too complacent, or airtight lang gyud ang Minnesota defense and wala pa nakita sa Denver ang counterstrategy nila?

M: If I were to pinpoint one thing, and this is just my opinion, it's the emergence of Naz Reid. He just stepped up his game this year, and in fact he won 6th man of the year. There was basically no roster changes in this team vs the one that only won 1 game vs Denver. And I'd say the Timberwolves just figured out how to play together na. You just have to give it time. Last year when they paired Luka and Kyrie I thought it wouldn't work. I thought they wouldn't figure it out. But look at what happened after a year. These things just take time.

K: Tinuod, the chemistry takes time to build. And yes, Naz Reid really stepped up, labaw na sa game 2. Natuok jud silang Jamal Murray while Naz was around. Also, Rudy won DPOY for the fourth time already, and as someone who is just beginning to be a Wolves and Rudy fan, I have yet to understand the full or bigger context anang muingon ang uban people nga overrated daw si Rudy or that Wemby was robbed of the DPOY award. As far as I can understand, Rudy can play the way he does kay iyang mga kuyog sa Wolves are actually competent at defense, so he is not forced to overhelp them.

M: I'd say Rudy deserved his DPOY win. Again. Haha. I wouldn't have s problem if they gave it to Wemby, but maybe the judges thought the ROY win was enough. But Wemby will get his multiple DPOYs before his career is over. You can bet on that.

K: By the way, Mark, what happened to the Mavs ganiha? OKC did a number on them. 😔 And have you read about the rumors nga ang Lakers are considering Jason Kidd sa head-coach position? 😵

M: Gisapot ko nagtanaw sa Mavs. Lol. I turned the TV off unya nag work out nalang ko. Lol. Luka isn't healthy. He injured his knee in the Clippers series, and when he's not playing well, the team doesn't play well. Kyrie also has this problem since the playoffs started nga he lays an egg in the first half, then he scrambles in the second para makabawi. He's been able to score 20 plus points in the second half of some of those games against the Clippers after barely scoring in the first half, but it will catch up to you. Which in the end nahitabo na gahapon. If Luka and Kyrie both have bad games -- plus daghan kaayo sila turnovers (which is uncharacteristic for this team), and na early foul trouble pa sila -- you won't win in the playoffs.

Gi sign na dayon sa Mavs si Kidd to a new multiyear contract after that Lakers rumor. Abtik kaayo. Hahaha

K: Kita ka sa interview ni Jokić sa Inside the NBA? Niingon gyud si Shaq to his face nga si Shai Gilgeous-Alexander daw mas deserving even though Jokić, for him, is best big guy sa NBA. Is that an appropriate or okay thing to say?

M: I have a problem with what Shaq did. I found it disrespectful. The MVP award is subjective. Jokic deserved the award too. All 3 of the finalists did. Dumot lang gihapon na si Shaq gud kay he thought one of those Steve Nash MVP awards should've been his. 😂

I wasn't able to watch game 3 of Mavs-Thunder, but I was following the score on my phone sa tattoo studio. Haha. That was the 2nd straight game PJ Washington scored 25+ points. Him and Gafford were excellent additions sa trade deadline. I can't wait to watch the replay of that game.

K: Sometimes, ma-shock pa gihapon ko that Americans can confuse disrespect and “keeping it real.” 😭 Jokić doesn’t look like the type who cares too much about what people say, pero satisfying siguro to ganiha nga makita ni Shaq ang duwa niya ganiha.

By the way, what the hell happened to the Wolves ganiha? 😭 I understand that it is possible for them to buckle under pressure kay ilang team ron wala pa’y championship experience, but grabeha ato ganiha ba kay murag layo ra sa game 2. Si Anthony Edwards ra nagdala sa show, and the others were not quite there and just making it easy sa Nuggets to take over.

Ka-read sad ko ug rumors about JJ Reddick, but unsa iyang coaching qualifications? 👀 I am genuinely curious unsa ang itsura sa Lakers under him. I only know nga player siya before and that he and LeBron host a podcast together.

M: 1. Shaq is just an insecure baby. I don't get the insecurity because of all his accomplishments. He sounds petty most of the time.

2. Jamaal Murray showed up. He didn't play like the Murray that we're accustomed to the first 2 games, and when he plays like that it just puts on a lot of pressure on the Wolves' defense. Also, there's clear 1-2 punch on the Nuggets. It's Jokic and it's Murray. It's not they clear cut with Minnesota. Edwards is the clear no. 1, but oftentimes it isn't clear if Anthony-Towns is the real no. 2. I'm sorry for doubting the defending champs after they lost the 1st 2 games. Now we have ourselves a series.

3. The Lakers will be going through coaches every couple of years as long as Lebron is there. He's one of the most difficult players to coach. If I were JJ Reddick, I'd stay with ESPN. He's starting to carve a name for himself now as one of the smartest guys in basketball media. I hope he doesn't get tempted to coach the Lakers.

4. I won't say Luka is a flopper at the same level as Harden and LeBron (but then again, I'm a Mavs fan, so don't take my word for it, lol) but I have to admit he's one of the biggest whiners in the NBA. I wish he'd cut that bullshit and play. There's no use antagonizing the refs. They won't change their minds anyway.

K: Mark, if you’re a franchise player like Karl-Anthony Towns, unsa ang expected na regular points sa imoha for the playoffs? Is it different from that in the regular season?

They looked miserable ganiha. Anthony Edwards was locked up and not scoring his usual. Wala ilang point guard, so it seemed like AE and everyone else lost direction too. And it felt like in their minds, they quit halfway through the game.

Also, na-dismantle man ang Minnesota defense, uy. Jokić just owned Rudy all game long.

M: KAT was the franchise player before Ant arrived. He's the second option now. And he knows it

Jokic took it personal. The MVP vs the DPOY

What DPOY? Lol

Maayo nga rim protector si Gobert, shot blocker. But against mobile bigs like Jokic who can also shoot and pass, he's gonna have a problem.

K: Si Draymond Green ganiha sa Inside the NBA ba, nihirit pa gyud nga he could guard Jokić better than Rudy could. I don’t know if maka-agree ko ana. I mean the Warriors are not playing now, and they lost all their games to the Nuggets this season. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Also, awa ni. Nagsugod na ang nepotism:

https://www.instagram.com/p/C7AOXN2S5nG/?igsh=MTBlNmo3dXhhZDMwNw==

M: Dumot na si Draymond ni Gobert. Grabe iyang banat ni Gobert, pasagdan ra pod sya sa mga kauban niya sa panel. Hahaha

I'm with you here. He shouldn't be given an outlet na sa media. He can host his podcast, sure, but he shouldn't be coddled. Especially sa iyang gipakita this season. Mag bagsik2x kunohay. It's really getting old, his antics

Gistoryaan siguro ni Jason Kidd si Luka to just focus on his game. Not once did I see him complain to the refs hahaha

I don't want to say anything bad about Bronny because the kid just wants to play in the NBA. But he's just getting all that attention tungod sa iyang last name. Unfair sa mga uban bata who have better averages than him but won't make it tungod lang kay they don't have famous last names.

K: Aguy, Mark, Mavs and Wolves mag-abot sa Western Conference finals. Si Anthony Edwards kay Kyrie, so I’m guessing si KAT kang Luka? If that is the assignment, unsa imong tan-aw sa match-ups nilang upat?

Also, unsa imong thoughts anang game fixing sa PBA? Tigsubay ko sa una ba, unya ma-surprise ko nga frequent maabot ug game 7 ang finals. I don’t know if nega ra kaayo ko sa PBA or naa gyud something sa officiating or other factors.

M: I don't know how Minnesota will design the match-up, but Ant already said he'd guard Kyrie, so fine. I think this is the defensive match-ups for Dallas (at least sa starting lineup):

Kyrie - Mike Conley

Luka - Jaden McDaniels

Derrick Jones Jr. - Anthony Edwards

PJ Washington - Karl Anthony Towns

Daniel Gafford - Rudy Gobert

Sus, K, you wouldn't believe how many finals and semis sa PBA ang naabot og game 7. I can compare it to the lone bettors karon sigeg kadaog sa lotto. Hahaha. Parehas ra na ang PBA og PCSO puros tikasan. 😂

K: Kita ko ug clip ni Luka ba na gigisi niya iyang own jersey. Second quarter pa gani, pungot na kaayo siya. 😆

M: Yeah. Hahaha. I hope he matures and stops whining. It really takes away from his game. Oftentimes man gud dili sya munaog sa depensa kay sige lang sya'g reklamo sa refs. Makalagot.

K: Hmm. Unsa imong forecast ani na finals, and unsa imong makita na mismatches or problems sa Wolves and Mavs when they play?

M: Kyrie hasn't been the nuclear scorer that he has been in the regular season (25 PPG). I can't understand the passiveness in the first half in both the Clippers and Thunder series. For me this is alarming because from the opening tip he should try to be more aggressive on offense and not just look to pass, especially since Luka is still nursing various injuries.

They need Kyrie to score more if they are to advance against the Wolves. It's a good thing PJ Washington and Derrick Rose Jr. has been helpng on offense. But they are mostly defensive guys. Any scoring you get from them is a bonus.

Both teams have great defense. But Dallas only picked up their defense in the last two months of the regular season. Before that, they were almost last in defensive rating. Minnesota, on the other, hand, defense has always been their calling card.

Dallas essentially bullied OKC because they were bigger than the Thunder. And they grabbed more rebounds, more importantly, offensive rebounds.

They cannot do that as easily against Minnesota.

K: Mark, unsa pasabot anang ma-foul because of a moving screen or an illegal screen? Wala pa kaayo nako na masabtan na foul, ay.

M: When you set a screen, you should stay in your immediate area or zone. You must have your feet planted. Also, as a screener, you can't move and hit the defensive player with any other part of your body. Otherwise, you'll get called for the offensive foul. Or the illegal screen.

K: Speaking of PBA, ig magduwa ang Gilas sa FIBA ba, magsalig ra gyud kay Jordan Clarkson. Murag mao ra ang game plan pirmi. May gani gipulihan na gyud si Chot Reyes. Puera gaba gyud nga coach. 😆

M: I agree. Imagine, walay tarong nga offensive play. They pass the ball to Clarkson, and let him cook. The other four players stand around and do nothing. If that's your offensive set, then anyone can coach that team. Bisan kinsang tambay sa iskina pwede mag coach. Hahaha

K: my god, ang Luka and Kyrie magic ganiha in full force gyud. Umod ang Wolves, uy. So many missed shots bahala ug open looks, unya daghan pa sad turnovers. 😭

M: Kyrie came out aggressive in the opening quarter, and then Luka finished them off in the fourth. It's such a luxury to have 2 guys who can play well off each other and complement each other's game. 

K: Maaaark. Na-stress ko nagtan-aw sa duwa! 😆

But of course, Luka would pull something outrageous in the last seconds. Amazing.

M: Grabe, sulit kaayo duwaa. Hahaha

When it's a close game, you have to give the edge to the Mavs. They have 2 of the best closers in the game today. The Wolves couldn't hold on to their 18-pt lead, and you're setting yourself up for that kind of thing in the clutch when you're going against Kyrie and Luka

If it's a close game I'll give the edge to the Mavs 10 out of 10 times. Minnesota needs to blow them out of the game early and hold on to the lead. They're not winning close games. At this stage of his career, Anthony Edwards hasn't figured it out yet. He will get there. Right now, Luka is there. Kyrie too, of course.

K: Ngano si Rudy man nagbantay ni Luka atong sa last seconds? 😭 I don’t think that was a good decision. As it stands, Luka is hard to guard, so maybe a double team unta? Flashback to first-round playoffs kaayo, katong di kasugakod si Rudy kay Jokić.

M: McDaniels was supposed to guard him, but Lively set a pick and forced a switch. That was what the Mavs wanted. You can argue that he shouldn't even have been in the game. Sure he's the DPOY, but any big will get cooked by a guard on the perimeter. He tried his best, but no dice. Haha

K: And katawaa kaayo nako sa savagery ni Luka after sa game, uy. Lutong kaayo ang balikas and taunt. Speaking in Slovenian daw. 😆 Katong sa first or second quarter, diba si Rudy kay naigo/giigo niya ang tiyan ni Luka, and Luka made sure to let him know he didn’t like that. Was it a hard and intentional foul? I remember Rudy was trying to explain himself sa iyaha.

M: Yeah, gadumot si Luka atong giigo sya sa tiyan. Paksit nuon. Lol 😂

K: Kuyaw ma-sweep ang Wolves if they keep playing the way they do and making unforced turnovers. And I don’t get how their defense can allow Lively to keep capitalizing sa lobs and dunk. 😭

M: Lively and Gafford are feasting on the inside and the Wolves can't stop them. Those pogo-stick centers are killing them on the interior. Kyrie played a pretty good 2nd half, but I still have to see him play a good game in this series, like from start to finish. Coz last game he had a good first half, but in the 2nd half he was 1 for 9 from the field. I'm hoping he explodes tomorrow. If that happens, the Wolves are done.

Last game -- I meant game 1

K: Kaning DPOY argument ba, how far can fans and analysts take this when it comes to guarding players like Jokić and Luka? When can you legitimately say that a center is “too soft”? Draymond Green was running his mouth again gahapon, and as much as I want to stay objective and look for the logic and validity sa iyang points because Rudy does need to adjust some things sa iyang game, it’s hard to listen to Draymond without thinking nga bitter ra gyud kaayo siya. He always initiates the trashing, and Shaq likes to get on board. 

M: Swerte man pod na si Rudy gud kay mas lax ang defense karon. I would say dili na sya ma DPOY in the 90s when the game was more physical and the players were tougher. But it isn't his fault. I also don't like it that TNT added Draymond to the panel. Ga samok2x ra na sya. Haha. Green's problem with Gobert is he thinks he should have won one of Rudy's DPOY awards, and si Shaq pod kay suya sya sa contract ni Gobert. Mas dako na gyud ang sweldo sa mga players ron, but that's not their fault. Shaq maybe feels he was paid peanuts during his era, and he was a beast on offense. But hey, you're a grown man. You shouldn't worry about another man's pockets. Bitter ra kaayo sya. 😂

I think the better question is how do they stop Luka and Kyrie from getting in the paint and throwing those lobs to either DLive and Gaff. What makes Luka and Kyrie so hard to stop -- not just their scoring but also their passing -- is that they can score three ways. From the 3, from midrange, and going to the cup. So the defender has to pick his poison. It makes it even more difficult if you have 2 rim-running bigs like Gafford and Lively. How can the Wolves stop Dallas's paint scoring? I don't know. And I hope they don't figure it out either. 😂

Grabiha ka frustrating aning Indiana Pacers oi. They gave away game 1 to the Celtics, and karon napod napildi sa end game after leading big in the first half.

Actually dili ra diay sa first half oi. Until midway through the 3rd qtr they had an 18-pt lead.

K: From the looks of it, murag di na nila ma-crack ang code this season, Mark. 😆 In the event of a Mavs-Celtics finals, I root for the Mavs.

M: Bati pod kaayo sila og depensa, haha. Sa final 4 teams nabilin, they have the worst defense. They were lucky they faced a banged-up Knicks team

I hope the Mavs handle business tomorrow and defend home court. If that happens, then they're going to the finals. We'll see. Mavs-Celtics should be fun. 😅

K: Maaark. Minnesota is just roadkill at this point. Murag kanang deer nga i-offer ang li-og sa iyang predator kay na-corner na. 😭

M: I was worried gamay kay Lively had to leave the game. But good thing they brought this game home. Lively might be questionable for next game so it's better to go up 3-0 without him in the next game than 2-1

K: Nakuyawan ko slight kay dugay siya nibangon ba. Abi nako naunsa na iyang spine or what. The commentators said it was a neck sprain.

Duol na unta to ang game ganiha ba, but murag wala pa gyud mahawa sa psychological black hole or whatever it is that is plaguing KAT and Anthony Edwards. They’re not quite in the game and exploding as they did against Denver. It just looks like too depleted sila mentally karon to fight a team that’s as talented as the Mavs. I also remember sa game 2 na ni-comment si Charles Barkley nga bad match-up lang gyud ang Mavs versus Wolves and that ang Denver unta to makapildi sa Mavs.

M: Neck sprain, yes. We'll see how long he's gonna be out. I hope he doesn't miss more than a game

Yeah it's a bad match-up, I agree with Barkley. I think if the Nuggets made it to the western finals they'd be a tougher match-up for the Mavs. Ant played better today but KAT kept on chucking threes instead of trying to score in the paint. That's the game right there. You can't win if your second option can't make a bucket. He's 12% from 3 in this series. Imagine that.

Like I said, if it's a close game, you have to pick Dallas. They have Kyrie and Luka. That's the difference

K: Wala ko kakita sa Inside the NBA ron kay I really can’t stand Draymond there, but from what I’ve been seeing sa mga snippets, they’re calling out KAT for not taking accountability and for some BS claim na gihimo niya. Haha.

Who do you think are the teams na made for the regular season and teams made for the playoffs?

M: Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome is insanity. If you're KAT and your outside shot isn't falling, why keep on chucking from 3? A lot of shooters who are in a slump, they tend to mix it up. Drive to the basket and fish for a foul. Shoot free throws and see the ball go in, maybe you'll gain more confidence. Or post up. Grabe niya kadako, he's close to 7 feet and weighs 250. Gafford and Lively are tall and athletic, but they're not the brawniest of guys. He can basically just move them out of the way of he wanted to.

He says "If KAT played even as half as regular season KAT this would be 3-0 or 2-1 Wolves,"

That's the problem. The playoffs are a different kind of animal. You need to adjust in the playoffs or you're bound for Cancun.

Teams that are made for the regular season that aren't made for the playoffs, those Atlanta Hawks teams that LeBron carved up in the playoffs when he was still with the Heat. Haha. I hated those teams. They'd have the best regular season record, and home court advantage throughout the playoffs, of course, but they'd choke against LeBron. Grabe kaayo ka frustrating haha

I'd put the Celtics there too, these Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown Celtics. That's one thing I agree with in that YouTube post that you shared. Tatum and Brown have a tendency to choke in the playoffs. We'll see in this year's finals. Because for a couple of years now, those Celtics just can't get over the hump

Teams made for the playoffs, the ones with go-to guys who don't choke. Those Bulls teams with MJ of course. Kobe's Lakers. One of the greatest playoff teams in history -- the 2011 championship Mavs who were basically towed to the championship by Nowitzki against the big 3 of LeBron, Bosh, and Wade. Imagine a team of a single superstar and aging veterans who upset that superteam. I said I hated those Atlanta Hawks teams that LeBron carved up. Those Atlanta Hawks teams were decently constructed. But they didn't have a go-to star who can take over in the clutch. Or when you need a bucket any time in the game. That's what you need in the playoffs. That Toronto team that beat the defending champ GSW team in the 2019 finals paid for a one-year rental of Kawhi, who they knew would leave in free agency. But they knew he would leave anyway. They just wanted a ring. You need a go-to superstar in the playoffs. Or two. Otherwise, you're likely to go home early.

I forgot to mention those championship Spurs and GSW teams. Well coached, well constructed, and full of current and future hall of famers. You can't get playoff ready than those teams. Played great offense and defense. And could adjust to any match-up.

K: Maaark. Nahitabo na gyud ni ron. Off to Cancún na gyud tawn ang Timberwolves. Wala ko nitan-aw sa uban parts sa game kay madugo kaayo. Haha. But I swear, di gyud lagi na dapat hagiton si Luka, kay mao gyud nang maka-motivate niya to strike back and do so much more. 😆

So now ang mga taw are starting to talk about trading Rudy and/or KAT. Do you think warranted ilang comments? I think people are just too impatient to wait for the good results of what Chris Finch has been building.

Also, ingon to ganiha si Stan van Gundy nga four players from Boston can stop Luka and Kyrie. Unsa imong thoughts about that?

M: I had a feeling Luka would come out firing. In the playoffs Luka averages 34 points in a game coming off  a loss, the most in NBA history. When he outscored the Wolves 20-19 on his own in the first quarter, that was a wrap. Kyrie picked it up in the 2nd, scoring 15, and that was it. LOL

They gave up a loooot for Rudy. I don't think that's prudent. Haha. And I don't know, after Rudy's performance in this series, despite his recent DPOY win a lot of teams are looking at him as a liability. Sure he's a great rim protector, but the Mavs just gave other teams a blueprint to score against Rudy. Not just switching on him and drawing him off the paint, but also with timely lobs to a rim-running center in the mold of a DLive and Gaff, but of course with an excellent passer like Doncic who is also a threat to score near the rim with floaters. Maybe another team wants KAT, he's a pretty good shooter for a big man, despite his struggles in this series. But I don't know what Minnesota can get for him. I think they should try to run it back with this team, it's too early to blow it up. Maybe Finch can plug some holes and get them back next year. 

I disagree that four players from Boston can stop Luka. I think the blueprint for stopping Luka is putting a burly defender on him, a la Lu Dort. Dort game him fits during the OKC series. Long, athletic guys won't bother him. OKC tried to put SGA on him on a few matchups and Luka torched him. Jaden McDaniels is also long, but Luka toyed with him. Ant is not as long, but extremely athletic, and Luka shrugged him off. Tatum and Brown are long, but not as bulky as Dort. Derrick White and Jrue Holiday are excellent defenders, but they are at least 4 inches shorter. Luka would have a field day. He'd shoot over them like they were a traffic cone.

What I'm more concerned about is how Kyrie will score against Holiday and White. Both of them I think can neutralize Kyrie; they're excellent at stifling smaller guards. I think Boston will let Luka cook and then stop Kyrie from scoring. If Kyrie can't help Luka on the offensive end, PJ Washington would have to step up, but you can't put too much pressure on a role player.  We'll see how this plays out. I'm not worried about Luka. He'll get his points. It's interesting to see how Kyrie will fare in this series.

"How many teams a) are interested in paying Towns four years of supermax money, b) have win-now players to send back to Minnesota and c) have those win-now players on contracts that would save the Timberwolves money?

"The obvious answer is none. Maybe you could stretch it a little bit. How badly do the Knicks want to upgrade on Julius Randle? There's a pretty easy scenario here in which Minnesota swaps Towns for Randle and Bojan Bogdanovic along with some draft capital with the idea that it can just pay for a $30 million power forward next season instead of a $50 million big. Towns, both a CAA client and Kentucky alum, has long been in the orbit of New York's power brokers. It's hard to believe the Knicks wouldn't have grander trade ambitions, and Towns' first go-round with Tom Thibodeau didn't end well."

cbssports.com/nba/news/karl-anthony-towns-trade-rumors-are-inevitable-after-timberwolves-loss-to-mavericks-but-are-they-realistic/

To bolster my point about Minnesota trading Towns.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

I Prefer to Keep Willow Indoors

Before I owned a cat (I've always been a dog person), I thought that this was common sense -- keeping cats indoors. (Unless we're talking about feral cats, though, who are exactly the ones we should be adopting and rescuing and keeping safe indoors.)

I never knew that keeping cats indoors was ever a controversial take until I rescued Willow, and found out that there was this faction of cat owners who believe that cats deserve to roam the outdoors until they are tired and decide to go home on their own after a long day of hunting and/or feline fornication. 

This, despite the fact that indoor cats live almost twice as long as their free-roaming counterparts. And never mind that cats, because they are still excellent hunters -- an instinct that domestication (ha!) miserably failed to completely stamp out -- are responsible for the deaths of endangered birds and small mammals.

Those who support free roaming contend that indoor cats live long but boring lives, and what kind of life is that?

This is one debate that won't die down soon. But I guess it boils down to your own personal preference. Personally, I prefer Willow to be safe, sound, and healthy inside the apartment. I try my best to keep him engaged with toys and treats and cuddles, but if he still finds that boring (but I doubt it because I had him neutered, which lessens the urge of male cats to roam), then tough luck. I'd rather have a relatively bored indoor cat than one that's flattened by a car or ravaged by feline HIV.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Men don't have the right to declare what a woman’s vocation should be

Harrison Butker's speech telling graduating women that the most important roles for them is to be wives, mothers, and homemakers naturally earned public backlash.

You're essentially telling young people, who've just powered through years and years of coursework -- and are excited to start their careers -- that they should be psyched about starting a family? 
😂

It was the wrong venue for that sort of message. Some might disagree with this assessment because Butker, who spoke at a small Catholic college in Kansas, is a Latin mass advocate. You can't get more traditional and old-school Catholic than that.

The outrage mostly came from the students whose message Butker targeted, and that's to be expected. I'm not saying being a wife, mother, and homemaker should be looked down on. My mother was a wife, mother, and homemaker, and she was one of the most important people to me. I looked up to her, and she was very instrumental to what I am now as a person.

But for God's sake, if you're Butker, that wasn't the time and place to push your agenda. 

Even the Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, an order of nuns who co-founded Benedictine College, understand this. They released a statement condemning Butker’s speech, saying it did not “represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested.”

Bottom line: men don't have the right to declare what a woman’s vocation should be.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Lumpia


Sa una katong nagskwela pa kog college sa USC, nag department Xmas party mi. Inato ra gud, gamay ra nga gathering. I think balay to sa isa ka classmate namo ang venue, unya nag chip in ra mi para palit og pagkaon. Naay food committee in charge sa pagpangompra ug pagluto sa pagkaon.

Pag oras na sa pagpangaon, gi-target na nako ang lumpiang shanghai. Pero gibadlong ko sa isa nako ka amigo, iya ko gihunghungan: "Mark, ayaw kuha anang lumpia." 

Lami kaayo tan-awon ang lumpia, bag-ong haon. Init pa, unya crispy kaayo. Ganahan gyud kaayo ko mukuha sa lumpia. Akong gipangutana akong amigo. Apil pod diay sya sa food committee.

"Ang nangompra man gud ganina sa merkado kay si (anonymous). Dili diay kaayo sya swito mangompra, unya medyo na overestimate niya ang ginaling nga iyang napalit. Akong gisimhot ganina sa kusina, murag dili na man presko. Lain na gamay ang karne. Anugon pod kaayo kung ilabay, so akong gipasobraan ang asin. Gi asinan nako ug maayo."

Nagpasalamat ko sa iyang warning, so nikuha nalang kog pansit. Gi isnab nako ang lumpia. Kalimot napod ko kung ako ra ba ang iyang gi-warningan.

Gikalingawan nalang nako og tan-aw ang uban nga classmates namo nga nidiretso sa lumpia. Naay uban tag tulo diretso ang gikuha, tag upat, katong mga baga'g nawng tag lima diretso. Of course, kay gi timbrehan ko daan sa akong amigo, nag andam na ko unsay mahitabo. With anticipation. 

Gisugdan na nila og paak ang lumpia.

Makita gyud nimo dayon ang change of expression sa isa ka tao nga excited kaayo mukaon, labi na katong gutom kaayo, unya nag expect sya nga ang lasa sa lumpia kay . . . lumpia.

"Tinabal!" kalit lang nga tyabaw sa akong maestro samtang nag usap sya sa iyang lumpia nga perteng parata. Wala na ko kahinumdom kung iya bang giluwa ang lumpia. "Shanghai ni or tinabal? Tinabal!"

Kung dili ko masayop, 18 ko ato. Karon 40 na ko. Pero wala gihapon ko kalimot ato nga Xmas party. 

Anyway, lisud pangita og tarong nga lumpia wrapper diri sa mga supermarket sa Mexico, mao nang kung ganahan kog lumpia, muadto pa kog mga Chinese restaurant diri. Pero dili man sya Pinoy-style lumpia; egg rolls sya nga Chinese-American style. Pero mas okay gihapon sya kaysa lumpia nga tinabal flavored.

Kung lumpia imong sud-an ron, good for you. Please enjoy it for me nalang.

Ambot nganong nakahimumdom kog kalit atong parat kaayo nga lumpia.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Gabo the Pilgrim


Note: This piece was originally published on August 5, 2022, in PNM.

Full disclosure: Although I’ve read a few of the major works of beloved Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez (“One Hundred Years of Solitude,” “The Autumn of the Patriarch” and “Love in the Time of Cholera”), I have never read his short story collection “Strange Pilgrims.”

So when the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Mexico City invited journalists to a literary talk — titled “Gabo the Pilgrim” — on Wednesday, July 27, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the publication of “Strange Pilgrims,” I was both excited and quite unsure. Excited because I’ve always been a big Gabo fan, but unsure because I didn’t know what to expect in the talk, and I would have wanted to come prepared — I would have read the book first, so I could ask more informed questions.

I discovered quickly that my doubts were unfounded: I not only discovered a great deal about the book, but also about the life of García Márquez and a few little-known tidbits about him.

“Strange Pilgrims,” a collection of 12 loosely related short stories, was not published until 1992, but the stories were originally written by García Márquez in the ’70s and ’80s, during a period of his travels.

The speakers at the literary talk — Orlando Oliveros, Jaime Abello and Alvaro Santana Acuña — discussed why the short stories in the collection had an autobiographical bent in them, and that readers will not only find Gabo the fictionist, but also Gabo the pilgrim in the book’s pages.

Abello, director general of the Gabo Foundation, discussed how García Márquez had travelled all his life: first exploring his beloved Colombia, going around Latin America and then finally hiking off to Europe.

García Márquez, who worked as a journalist before he found his true calling as a fictionist, was also able to travel because of his work. A committed leftist throughout his life, García Márquez covered the Cuban Revolution for media outlet Prensa Latina in Havana, and also travelled to its New York office.

One interesting tidbit about García Márquez, according to Oliveros — the literary editor of the Gabo Center — is that despite the Colombian novelist’s love for travel, he was terrified of flying. And the fact that the aviation industry when Gabo was a young journalist was basically still in its infancy didn’t help alleviate García Márquez’s fears of stepping inside a Douglas DC-3 commercial airplane.

For his part, Santana Acuña — curator of the Gabriel García Márquez exposition that had also recently opened at the MAM, and which will run until Oct. 2 of this year — talked about how García Márquez didn’t stay in one place for long and the fact that his domestic travels around Colombia were spurred by a personal tragedy — when his grandfather died. Gabo then started moving around Colombia frequently: around Cartagena, Baranquilla and Bogota.

Oliveros also said that García Márquez learned a great deal more about his identity as a Colombian and as a Latin American during his travels in Europe than when he was travelling around Colombia and Latin America. The fictionist met fellow Latin Americans in the cafés of Paris, for example: Argentinians, Mexicans, Guatemalans and Venezuelans. This led Gabo to ask himself and his fellow Latin Americans: “What can we do as Latin Americans, what can we contribute to the world, if we do not fight together?”

But back to the short story collection “Strange Pilgrims.”

Like I said at the beginning of this article, I haven’t read it yet. And so I need to stop right here to order a copy on Amazon.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Jogger

Many years back, when I was still living in Cebu City, there was a running craze.

This running craze came on the heels of a badminton craze.

I was never really a fan of badminton or running. Back then I used to lift weights. Then I switched to indoor cycling (also known as spinning). Then I dabbled in boxing. And then I discovered Freeletics, a series of bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere -- I downloaded .pdf copies of three guides, the Strength Guide, the Cardio Guide, and the combo Cardio & Strength Guide ("Freeletics is a sport. The core of Freeletics is a set of predefined high-intensity workouts. All workouts are bodyweight only. You always do them as fast as you can. They only take between 5 and 45 mins on average. Workout times will be used to measure performances and progress and to compare to other athletes," says the introduction to all three guides). 

Fast forward many years later, and I'm still doing Freeletics, but through an app that I downloaded on my phone. The Freeletics app is, obviously, more advanced than those .pdf guides -- you can personalize your workouts based on your needs. 

But then I figured, why not incorporate running into these bodyweight workouts too?

Sorry, not running, JOGGING.

Why not incorporate JOGGING into these bodyweight workouts too?

I won't call myself a runner; I jog. I slog. I can call myself a slow runner, but why not use the more appropriate word instead? 

I'm no runner. I'm a jogger.

Back when there was a running craze in Cebu, the company I was working for sponsored a run. Of course, all employees were encouraged to join the run. So my then-girlfriend (now my wife) and I signed up for the shortest distance, the 5K.

But because life happens, I ended up not even finishing the run. The night before the run, I came home stinking drunk, to the wife's chagrin. I told her I'd still try to run the next day, and that there would be no problem waking up early in the morning.

And so I woke up early in the morning. We took a taxi to the event and lined up at the starting line. 

After a few steps, I felt like puking. I took a taxi back home and slept off my hangover. The wife ended up finishing the run.

Many years later, here in Mexico City, the company that the wife worked for organized a run. All employees were encouraged to join the run. So the wife and I signed up for the shortest distance, the 5K.

This time we both finished the run. I promised her I wouldn't drink the night before. The problem was, even though I was sober, I was in no shape to run even a 5K. Sure I did bodyweight exercises, but the stamina you need for running is another thing. So I ran-walked the entire 5K, finishing at a very slow time. (I was a little bit faster than the wife, but not by much. She also ran-walked the entire 5K.)

When I decided to take up jogging a few weeks ago, I vowed to take it seriously. I downloaded a couch-to-5K app, and signed up for a 5K run in Puerto Vallarta, which at that time was more than two months away. That way, I'd have more than enough time to prepare. I'm more than halfway done on my training now, and so far, so good. I've also had a lot of help from a group I recently joined on Facebook, Slow AF Running Club. There are a lot of tips for the slow AF runner. 

One of the most common tips is to run as slow as you can.

In other words, jog.

It's still three weeks away from the run, but I'm feeling good. 

But more importantly, I'm comfortable enough now to call myself a jogger.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Filipinos Love Cozying Up to Politicians

I'm reminded of this every time I unfriend someone who seems to have forgotten his/her principles. The most recent case is a college friend. But then again, I keep on finding out that the former University of San Carlos Department of Sociology and Anthropology (now the Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and History) just keeps on churning out graduates who are either die-hard Dutertards or Marcos loyalists, or both. Which is a shame, really. Especially now that they're producing history graduates too. How can you study (or teach) history (or sociology/anthropology) and not know what the Marcoses did to the country? 

The latest I've unfriended is someone who took up sociology, like me, and who even supported Leni Robredo -- like me.

But lately this person had been sharing posts of some members of the Marcos family because, apparently, he is supporting -- and working with, (hence the cozying up) -- Ace Durano now. The same Ace Durano who was convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan in 2008 when he served as Secretary of Tourism under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Durano pledged his support for Bongbong Marcos in the 2022 elections.

It's not surprising that the academic department that I was a part of in college should produce DDS and Marcos loyalists. As early as 2016 I unfriended one of my best friends -- also a sociology major (lol) -- when I found out that she was campaigning for Bongbong for vice president. I tried to talk her out of it, tried to reason with her, but all my attempts fell on deaf ears. So what else can you do?

There are two professors who still teach there, both I once respected and looked up to. But one invited Imelda Marcos to an exhibit and then, many years later, proudly posted a pic here on FB that he captioned as having a "friendly tête-à-tête" with Irene Marcos. The other professor posted a pic with Rodrigo Duterte, and was a staunch defender of the ABS-CBN closure and the cases against Rappler.

Sometimes I think that maybe there's something wrong with ME. Maybe the stuff I learned while taking those sociology and anthropology classes (and history classes) had an unintended effect on me. I probably SHOULD BE a DDS and a Marcos loyalist right now. Maybe I SHOULD BE cozying up to politicians. Maybe I misunderstood those books that I read years ago?

I remember that one of those two professors, when he was chair of the department years ago, had a rant that never failed to make me laugh whenever one of the sociology or anthropology majors asked him to sign their transfer papers. There was a time when the department was hemorrhaging students, because they were shifting to hotel and restaurant management.

He would ask the students, "Mag unsa man mo didto, mag-pilo og habol ug punda?"

Years ago, I got a kick every time I heard that rant from him. 

Now?

Bahala nalang tig-pilo og habol oi basta dili lang DDS ug pro-Marcos. 😂