WARNING: This post is entirely basketball-related.

Gabe Freeman, photo by PBA Images

San Miguel Beermen import Gabe Freeman missed a couple of very crucial games towards the end of the elimination phase of the ongoing  PBA Fiesta Cup. First was an out-of-town game against the loaded Talk N Text team and the second one against the Coca-Cola Tigers. Both games were decided at the end game, with the Beermen crumbling down the stretch. And after those painful losses, SMB fans found themselves pondering the what-ifs had Freeman played.

When he missed playing against TNT, reports said Freeman was experiencing “flu-like symptoms”. Many bought SMB’s explanation. But when he didn’t suit up for the second straight game, many speculated that there’s something fishy going on. News reports then broke on the possibility that Freeman was tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PED).

Under the PBA rules, first violation merits a two-game suspension. Many implied that Freeman may have voluntarily submitted himself to be suspended and the SMB management, and the PBA Office itself, just covered it up. Another thing that may have fired up speculations of drug use was the statement of PBA outgoing Commissioner Sonny Barrios:

“Under the current rules, we keep it private between the Commissioner’s Office and the team (of the player concerned). I can’t confirm either way,” said Barrios.

Barrios is obviously keeping mum on the matter. It seems his hands are tied again. If proven, the drug issue is very detrimental to the league, coupled with the lopsided trades, bad officiating, crappy salary cap rules – the list goes on!

But is it already proven that Freeman indeed used PED? Knowingly? Or unknowingly (given that some products may contain substances similar to PED, that I’m not sure of)? Some reports even said he used marijuana.

Freeman played yesterday against Rain or Shine and it remains to be seen if he’ll stay long.

One thing’s for sure – we, fans, could only speculate.

My favorite PBA anchor posted some juicy info:

… allegations are not totally proven. They ones in question reportedly got the clear. It should end there right? But, the ones on the other side of the fence are still trying to keep the issue burning.

Why is that?

Should it be proven, the complainants have something to gain of course.

The battles are spilling out of the sidelines
. I hope it doesn’t get ugly.

Certainly, there’s more to this issue than meets the eye.


Ato Agustin, photo by Jan Dizon

The Beermen has a new coach. He is a former Most Valuable Player awardee. He is Ato Agustin.

Not. The SMC Management dubbed it as “on-the-job-training”.

But again, Ms. Patricia Hizon, posted a rather meaningful blind item:

Despite the glory you’ve given to the team, despite the greatness you have steered them to, there will come a time when you just won’t be good enough for them anymore.

Your efforts are never going to be enough because they’ll never be satisfied. They won’t settle for anything less than a crown. They won’t stop till they’re back on top.

Which she later on identified to be Coach Siot Tanquincen and the Beermen:

Coach Ato Agustin is seemingly calling the shots for the San Miguel Beermen and coach Siot is somewhat giving way. It’s not for them to decide. They are merely doing what management expects them to do – win the crown!

Siot Tanquincen, photo by GMANews.tv

I have high hopes for Coach Ato Agustin. With the many championship rings he won in the amateur ranks, his coaching career sure looks very impressive.

But I don’t get the way the SMC management has been hell-bent on winning a crown immediately. After stockpiling on superstars and trading key players one after another.

And this. This so-called head coaching shift (no matter how they refer to it as OJT). This happening mid-way of the conference, during a very crucial stage. This.move.drives.us.fans.CRAZY.and.NUTS.

I feel sorry for Coach Siot. Sure he made some bonehead decisions left and right. But I don’t think he deserves this kind of treatment from the management. After all, as Ms. Patricia aptly put it, he already steered the Beermen into greatness. SMB is the defending champs of the Fiesta Conference. And you can see the hardwork he has put into.

But maybe that’s just how things go in this business. No one’s indispensable. With just a snap of finger, your efforts will go to naught and what your bosses will remember is the fact that you haven’t met their current set of very high expectations. Patience does not seem to be in their vocabulary.

It sucks to be in Coach Siot’s place now.


The Beermen, who’s currently second in the standings, lost four of its last six games after riding on a nine-game winning streak. Three of those lost games were against the teams which belong to the upper tier while all of those losses went down the wire.

What does this say about the team? Are the Beermen collapsing again towards the crucial stage of the conference similar to what happened last All Filipino Cup? Are they no longer capable of beating top-caliber teams? Can’t they fvcking close out a close game?

As a true-blooded SMB fan, I cringe at the site of the team crumbling at the end game, as if no one wants to rise into the occasion. I understand that you can’t just win it all and that eventually, you’ll lose some. But the way the Beermen have been playing as of late (except the one against RoS) was definitely a capital ‘E’ eye sore.

Come playoffs time, I just hope the Beermen will get their acts together and play an inspired, no-BS ball game, with the return of Freeman and their new head coach at the helm.