The Filipino coach of guest team Bay Area is convinced that they can stand their ground against Philippine Basketball Association heavyweights when they see action in the Commissioner’s Cup that started Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Dragons assistant coach Cholo Villanueva yesterday said they have what it takes to dominate and become the first guest team since Nicholas Stoodley to rule the oldest professional league in Asia.
Their preseason performance is quite impressive.
In fact, the Dragons swept all of their friendly matches, wining over Blackwater thrice, NLEX, Terrafirma and Converge.
They also emerged victorious over the Changwon LG Sakers of the Korean Basketball League as well as collegiate teams College of Saint Benilde and Atene de Manila University.
In their first game in the PBA, they made a strong impact as they crushed Blackwater, 133-87.
Villanueva, a former De La Salle University star who mentors the Batangas Athletics in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, said they are doing a tremendous job playing under the system of Olympic coach Brian Goorjian.
“Of course, when we started, I didn’t know the capacity of the team because we are a new team, working with coach Brian Goorjian, how he is forming his system,” said Villanueva, who wasn’t born yet when Nicholas Stoodley ruled the league some 40 years ago.
“But we can compete against teams in the PBA.”
Villanueva has a very special mission inside the visitors’ camp.
His main task is to serve as chief scout and give the Dragons an insight on Philippine basketball, something that he is capable of doing after serving as assistant coach to his college coach, Franz Pumaren, at Air21 and Globalport.
Aside from the PBA, Villanueva will also be with the Dragons when they compete in the East Asia Super League — a tournament where San Miguel Beer and TNT Tropang Giga will also be seeing action.
“I’m the most familiar with the Filipino brand of play,” Villanueva said.
“I also know some of the individual tendencies of the players and the teams, so most of the scouting, I’m doing it for them.”
“I’m more familiar with our brand of basketball, so for us, we’re still working on the general rules of our defense and offense, then I’m slowly putting in the scouting reports. But it’s going to be during games where scouting is going to be deeper for our planning.”
Still, Villanueva believes that the battle is far from over.
“We still have a long way to go,” he said.
“We’re just playing tune-up games and we just want to know how we are going up against PBA teams. But we can definitely compete.”