MANILA, Philippines – Jiovani Jalalon has a chance to be a special player, but Kevin Ferrer is simply a better fit for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings right now, according to head coach Tim Cone.
It was revealed Thursday that Ferrer was set to be Ginebra's pick in the special draft for Gilas players, but rumors soon surfaced that the former University of Santo Tomas (UST) star will be traded for Arellano University's Jalalon.
Those rumors were quickly quashed by Ginebra team governor Alfrancis Chua himself, and on Sunday, the team made it official as they formally took Ferrer in the first round of the draft. Jalalon, meanwhile, went to the Star Hotshots, as was previously reported.
For Cone, Ferrer is "the guy that we've been looking for." The lanky forward is a true "stretch-guy" who can play – and defend – multiple positions, giving Ginebra another weapon to add to its already loaded arsenal.
"If you look around our team and you ask for a player that will fit in and we can really use, that's Kevin Ferrer," Cone pointed out after the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft.
Cone acknowledged that Jalalon is a special talent. However, had they selected him, they would have been overloaded with talent on the point guard position, something that Cone does not believe is healthy for a team. Jalalon would have had to compete for minutes not just with good friend Scottie Thompson, but also veteran LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, and even Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbadn.
"I think the biggest thing, from a coaching standpoint in terms of creating chemistry, is not overloading with too much talent in one position," Cone explained. "Because then, it becomes a competition."
"Also, when you have three great players sharing one position, that means two guys are on the bench, two great players are on the bench while one guy is out there," he added. "That's a waste of talent."
FIGHT FOR MINUTES
At the end of the day, Cone said there was a space in Ginebra for Ferrer to grow and develop and ultimately shine -- which would not have been the case with Jalalon.
"Kevin had a real spot," he said. "He could come in and grow with us."
Cone also made it clear that he does not even know if Ginebra ever had a real shot at selecting Jalalon, whose tremendous court vision and athleticism made him the best point guard in the collegiate ranks today.
"People are saying that we had a chance at him," said Cone. "I don't know… I didn't know the mechanics of the draft. I wasn't there during the draft."
"All I did was get a call that said, 'Hey, we got Kevin.' I said, 'Oh, we did? Cool.' That's the guy we wanted," he added.
Cone certainly would have been happy to get either player, both of whom are great talents. "But for what we need, and where we are right now as an organization, I think Ferrer is a better pick for us," he stressed.
Nevertheless, Cone stressed that Ferrer will still have to fight for his minutes -- the way Thompson did in his rookie season.
"He's gonna have to come in and show that he deserves to play. We said the same thing about Scottie Thompson last year, and Scottie earned it," Cone said. "So Ferrer is gonna have that opportunity."
'NEVER SAY DIE'
The "never say die" attitude that is so paramount in the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings is nothing new for rookie Ferrer, who lived and breathed that mantra back when he was being coached by Pido Jarencio in UST.
It may have gone by some other name – "Puso, Pride, Palaban" were the words printed on UST shirts – but for Ferrer, the attitude of never giving up, no matter how big the deficit, no matter how powerful the opponent, until the final buzzer had sounded, is something that he has already developed.
He plans to bring this own mindset as he embarks on his PBA career with Ginebra.
"Barangay Ginebra is Barangay Ginebra," Ferrer said. "May attitude din na 'never say die,' like tinuro sa amin ni Coach Pido talaga, na makipag-patayan ka pag dating sa laro ng basketball."
He vows to live up to his former coach's teachings, especially as he wants to help the Gin Kings win even more PBA titles after their breakthrough in the 2016 Governors' Cup.
"Meron silang heart of a champion," Ferrer said of the Gin Kings. "So ako, gusto ko talaga sila matulungan makuha 'yung back-to-back championship, or hindi lang back-to-back."
"Ibibigay ko 'yung commitment ko sa team na 'to," he promised. "Masaya ako na ito na 'yung bagong tahanan ko."
Ferrer is also looking forward to learning under Cone, the winningest coach in the history of the league.
"Sa tingin ko, si coach, babaguhin niya 'yung mga mali ko, or 'yung maturity ko, i-improve niya," said Ferrer. "Sana, makuha ko 'yun."
Ferrer will join two other UST alumni in Ginebra -- Jervy Cruz and Aljon Mariano -- and Cone does not expect his rookie to have a difficult time in assimilating their famous club motto.
"Never say die, that's Pido Jarencio's guys," he said. "They're real comfortable with coming in and playing for Ginebra."
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