By Ron Evangelista
Here’s a scary thought:
One of the UAAP’s former premier two-way players is already a champion in the pro-league, playing high-level basketball for one of the most stacked teams in the PBA.
And he hasn’t even come out of his shell yet.
I’m talking about the former UST King Tiger Kevin Ferrer of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
And this year for him is the perfect time to shine. Why? Tim Cone will be missing the services of his trusty veteran forward Joe Devance for most of the Philippine Cup due to a recurring foot injury.
This comes as a huge blow to a team that’s coming from a championship conference looking to start the season with a bang. Tim Cone shouldn’t be worried though. After all, he has a blossoming young player in his bench biding his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to deliver the goods.
Before being drafted by Ginebra, Kevin Ferrer was a real killer in his UAAP days, instilling fear in the hearts of the opposing team because of his hands that can quickly catch fire. He is as streaky as it gets. This guy was a UST fan favorite, and it isn’t hard to see why. I’m sure DLSU and FEU still feel the heat from his threes.
His rookie season with the Kings was splendid. Ferrer slowly earned Cone’s trust and was a steady player in the rotation. He fit in perfectly for a team that was sorely missing an outside threat since the departure of guys like Mac Baracael and Josh Urbiztondo. This comes as a benefit for their terrific system that’s heavily dependent on ball movement and finding open looks. With Devance out, most of the minutes will likely go to Ferrer.
Let’s not forget that players under Tim Cone that have been given increased minutes thrived and raised their level of play. LA Tenorio in Alaska, Alex Mallari, and Scottie Thompson are a few of the multitude of names that benefited from this scheme, and it isn’t far for Ferrer to break out with the same treatment.
Also, with Greg Slaughter slowly getting his groove back, The Gin Kings have been utilizing him to his full extent and letting him work his magic in the paint. Devance may be a jack of all trades type of player but compared to him, Ferrer is the superior shooter. Putting Ferrer in the proximity zones of “Gregzilla’s” post presence will have defenders picking their poison. Either they will have to trust their one on one defense, or they will have to double team the big man, giving Ferrer airspace for some three point shots.
Although he has shown glimpses of his brilliant shooting displays, Ferrer has made a name for himself on the other end with his pesky hands and his tenacious lock down defense. This also comes as a good thing for a defensive juggernaut of a team in Ginebra. Most of the time, Devance has been tasked to guard the difficult match-ups (the Reynel Hugnatan, Arwind Santos type of guys) and in his absence Kevin Ferrer will be the one stuck with the problem of guarding the other team’s elite player. Not only is this kid a great defensive specimen, he also has this innate ability, if you may call it that to tick his defensive assignment off, thus throwing them off (or sometimes out) of their game.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Glen Rice Jr.
In just his first year and with second stringer minutes, Ferrer has endeared himself both to Tim Cone and the Ginebra faithful. With Joe Devance’s unfortunate injury, Ferrer now has a chance handed on a silver platter. The King Tiger must step up his game and reward the priceless trust he has been given.
With more time to show his talents, he will ultimately find his stride this year.
All with his tongue sticking out of his mouth, sending a message to everyone that The King Tiger is now ready to pounce.
[Thumbnail photo from Hoops PH; video from YouTube]