Superteams and superpowers: Basketball in 2017
Paul Lintag on Dec 28, 2017 08:28 PM
We live in a world of superteams now. Either your favorite basketball team is one or it's not.
The common theme in basketball as of late is rather simple: build yourself a superteam and see where it goes.
2017 saw a bunch of superteams take the court in all levels. Some panned out and some did not.
Nevertheless, we live in a world of superteams. Either your favorite basketball team is one or it's not.
For the 2016-2017 NBA Season, the 73-win Golden State Warriors, a superteam in their own right, added former Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant.
Oh my goodness.
The Dubs then proceeded to decimate the NBA, winning 67 games in the regular season.
Golden State was even better in the playoffs, making a serious play for a postseason sweep before finishing with a 16-1 record and a second title in three seasons.
Seriously, it's a Warriors World that we live in
Golden State's success has prompted other teams to try and create their own superteam.
Houston snatched Chris Paul away from the Los Angeles Clippers and now the Rockets have a potent backcourt combo that also feature MVP contender James Harden.
Oklahoma City completed two incredible trades that made Paul George and Carmelo Anthony members of the Thunder. Oh, OKC also has MVP winner Russell Westbrook running point.
The Timberwolves also have something going on in Minnesota as Jimmy Butler joined Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins for a young and intriguing Big 3.
The Eastern Conference landscape changed when Cleveland traded Kyrie Irving to Boston. The Celtics previously signed Gordon Hayward and all of a sudden, the winningest NBA franchise is in position to take over the East now and the forseeable future.
Speaking of Cleveland, LeBron James is still with the Cavs and they've added Dwyane Wade of all people to join an aging but still scary superteam.
The King started this whole superteam craze. Golden State just happened to perfect. We all live in a Warriors World.
Feer the Beer
Over in the PBA, the Philippines' premier superteam is still pretty effective despite its stars each playing almost 40 minutes per game.
A year removed from the "Beeracle Run," San Miguel made history by being only the second team to capture the Perpetual Trophy following three straight Philippine Cup titles.
Then the Beermen, with the top-3 MVP candidates in June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross, plus Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter, ended the franchise's 16-year championship drought in the Commissioner's Cup. With the help of import Charles Rhodes of course.
San Miguel had legitimate chances to win the Grand Slam of course, but the team ultimately fell short in the Governors' Cup.
However, the Beermen did add 6'8" Fil-German Christian Standhardinger to the fold. Superteam.
Return of the Kings
It was the perfect set up.
Meralco earned the number 1 seed and was rolling all the way to the Finals. Meanwhile, the Gink Kings had to go through yet another emotional and heated series against rival TNT in the semifinals in order to have a chance to properly defend their title.
The series before that? The Gin Kings had to end San Miguel's Grand Slam dreams.
In the 2017 Governors' Cup Finals, Meralco was in perfect position to take The Rematch and allow the birth of a new PBA rivalry.
After seven games, none of that happened and Ginebra won back-to-back titles by virtue of their quote unquote superteam.
Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, and Scottie Thompson. How is that not a superteam? The Kangkong jokes sure died a slow death.
Even in college hoops, superteams are the way to go.
However, in the amatuers, you just have to recruit your way into building one.
La Salle has perfected this method and the Green Archers are certainly the biggest --- and loudest and most aggressive ---- recruiters.
The Taft superteam featuring Ben Mbala and co. got the Green Archers to two UAAP Finals and one championship.
Only one championship because another superteam, quietly built in Katipunan with surgical, perhaps even robotic, precision, beat them this year.
That's right, Big Bad Blue is once again on top of the UAAP as the Ateneo Blue Eagles scored a sensational, near-sweep of UAAP Season 80.
Coach Tab Baldwin has a collection of incredible players that may not look like it on first glance but they do certainly qualify for superteam status.
Dom't believe it? Maybe you will after they complete a five-peat. It could happen.
In the other collegiate league, two superteams dominated the NCAA for two separate periods in one season.
First, Lyceum, the surprise superteam, made history by completing an 18-game sweep of the elimination round.
However, the Pirates ran into the league's decade-old superteam in San Beda and the Red Lions ended up sweeping the Finals for yet another title.
Most of the major characters from both squads will return for a new season and if a San Beda-Lyceum rematch does not happen, well, that's just disappointing isn't it?
2017 also saw the rise and fall and rise of the Gilas Pilipinas program.
Well sort of.
The Philippines got off to a great start this year by absolutely dominating the SEABA Championships.
Then, disaster struck in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup when Gilas was embarassed by an old foe in South Korea.
To end the year, the Philippine national team recovered, albeit in an ugly fashion, to take an early lead in the 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Gilas is more than capable of forming a Pinoy superteam that could compete, and even beat, the best of Asia. Let's hope we get that in 2018.
Finally, 2017 also saw the Civil War PBA edition. It wasn't funny and it wasn't good.
Fortunately, it seems that bright and peacuful days are ahead of our beloved league. Let's hope that's the case and let's just leave the bad memories behind this year. Time to move on and forget about that stuff. There are basketball games to be played.
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