Through the years, basketball has transcended and evolved in more ways than one can count. The handles are better and insanely flashier, the speed has immensely picked up and the skill level is at an all-time high. This is epitomized by the level of play that the pro-leagues are showing right now.
The PBA is no different to this revolution of sorts as players like Terrence Romeo, Marcio Lassiter, and Stanley Pringle have joined in on the fray. Guys like these are constantly displaying virtuoso like skill sets, wowing crowds wherever they go.
However, one man is going by the simpler, substance over style route and in the process has arguably endeared more fans to his side, one surprise rebound at a time.
Plowing through the opposition and endlessly leaping for the ball as if it’s a matter of life and death, Ginebra guard Scottie Thompson, simple as he is, is grit and grind personified.
Drafted by the league’s most popular ball club, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in 2015 as the fifth overall pick, the wonder kid from the University of Perpetual Help has continued to impress everyone and anyone with a hint of basketball sense.
People have taken notice of this potential superstar. The great Robert Jaworski said Thompson was “going places” if he keeps playing like this. Tim Cone has also mentioned that if he improves on his scoring, he can be a Russell Westbrook type of player, flirting with triple doubles every single game.
What makes Thompson so special? To be fair, who wouldn’t be impressed with a 6 foot point guard out-rebounding almost every big man in the league? His tenacity is so potent that sometimes, people at home anticipate him to jump out of their television sets to grab a loose ball. Only five games into the Philippine Cup, Scottie is already averaging 10 rebounds per game. TEN. That’s two boards short of June Mar Fajardo’s conference average. Oh, and did I mention that Fajardo is 6’11”?
As a floor general, he leads his teammates consistently through the flow of the triangle offense. Getting his teammates involved is his main objective and he creates looks for his teammates for easy baskets. He is a pass first facilitator and sets everyone up beautifully. That’s not to say that the kid can’t score either. If needed, he can explode for points by getting inside the paint and has recently developed a much needed jumper. This man is a Swiss army knife. A jack of all trades, and a perfect fit for an almost isolation free offense.
Aside from his phenomenal rebounding and play-making, another draw for Scottie is that he resembles an old-school “masa” type of player. A player who comes out with everything he’s got to help his team get the win. A team oriented baller that focuses on fundamentals rather than glitzy dribbles.
This has noticeably resonated well with the fans because it embodies what Pinoy basketball is all about: fighting, scratching, and clawing for every possession, mirroring the resilience of the Filipino people in everyday life. The Filipinos see a guy who’s similar to their kanto-style pick-up games. Guys who play with the same passion, regardless if it’s over an amount of money or a bottle of ice cold RC Cola.
This would certainly be vital for a league that’s supposedly going back to its roots of hard-nosed basketball. Playing for Ginebra, whose fan base is composed mostly of the masses certainly helped increase his stock.
Only three years into his pro career, he has displayed an uncanny composure that’s mostly found in battle scarred veterans of the game. Several times, he has come up with crucial plays and sometimes even clutch and winning shots for the Gin Kings. He just almost always does the right play and finds a way for his team to win.
Two championships and universal acclaim from sports personalities have not put out the fire in his body. Instead, it ravages on further proving to the league that sometimes, old school is definitely cool.
It just goes to show that in this world full of Terrence Romeos, you should roll with a Scottie Thompson.
[Thumbnail image from PBA; videos from YouTube]