Jackson LeVroman Gave Up On Ginebra

It was probably the 429th time that BGK import Jackson Vroman utilized his arms the way Italian ballers use theirs to say ‘screw you ref!’. But something was different this time; he knew the ref was right. The naturalized Lebanese was just called for his graduating foul and by looking at how he half-heartedly protested against the call; it was as if he fouled himself out of the game. Vroman wanted no part of the ass-whoopin that the Llamados were handing out, just like Piolo wanted no part of KC.[1] He gave up on his team the way Bron did the Cavs.

But it wasn’t like the lead was insurmountable. Vroman threw in the towel with barely 6 minutes left in the game and Ginebra down 94-79. No doubt —- if there was a team that could pull off a Lazarus-like stunt, it was Ginebra; the team known for never giving up, the team who never said ‘die’. The Barangay crowd was still into the game. They were still hoping for a miracle, an occurrence they know full well could happen considering what they’ve seen in the past and that residues of Jawo’s spunk were still evident on the team.

But an awkward marriage squashed all hopes of a comeback, even before BGK trailed by half a month, even before Game 4 started, maybe when Jackson Vroman officially replaced Chris Alexander.

I can only imagine the pain Ginebra fans brought home that night. Tangina, masakit talaga.[2] I can imagine them talking to their bathroom mirrors and asking, “Bakit si Vroman? Dapat kasi hindi nalang pinalitan si Alexander!”.  Sure, Alexander WOULD have made a difference in that series. He was bigger than Vroman and his body was made to withstand more pounding from the surprisingly physical Llamados. Theoretically substitute him for Vroman in Game 4 and the 18 offensive rebounds they gave up should have been easily cut in half.

Alexander certainly was the better fit for BGK in that series, BUT I’m not sure if they would even be in the semis with him. I saw him average 14 points and 17 boards in his 3-game stint. Those numbers weren’t bad at all but I highly doubt if he could have sustained them. After all, the only thing as questionable as Piolo’s sexuality that time was Alexander’s conditioning. Chris Alexander didn’t move like an import at all and his lack of energy was a stark contrast with Barangay Ginebra Basketball. To put it accurately, he was a black Adam Parada. [3]

Honestly, Ginebra fans, would you want a black Adam Parada?

So the what-if/what-could-have-been questions should stop now. If you ask me, Ginebra management made the right decision to replace Chris Alexander (a.k.a. black Adam Parada). They just picked the wrong guy to replace him.

A proof that he played in the NBA. But who in his right mind would buy this jersey-card?

But who can blame them? Jackson Vroman was a legit NBA player. A 31st overall draft choice by the Chicago Bulls in 2004 (notably ahead of Trevor Ariza at 43rd), the 6’10” forward played relatively decent NBA minutes. Vroman was also an accomplished club player in Iran, winning national and Asian Championships[4]. More significantly, he led the Kings to an outright semis berth after helping the team win 4 of their last 6 games. So going into the semis, there was little to refute his case.

But the replacement showed signs of trouble like a dozen Janet Jackson nip-slips as early as Game 1. If you are a Ginebra fan, the following must have annoyed you about Jackson Vroman: a) he missed too many free throws and lacked confidence to make some b) always complained about calls looking like Chot Reyes in the process c) was too damn soft for smaller but tougher PBA bruisers. Alas, these signs exploded in the semis, when stakes were higher and subtle punches were harder. You saw it coming like KC’s half-revelation of Piolo’s true sexuality. He was methodically broken down —- thawed by Reavis, then chopped by Pingris, and most surprisingly, (drum roll please…) cooked by Yancy De Ocampo![5] And finally in Game 4, Jackson LeVroman gives up. While getting brutally outplayed by the Llamados and after laying yet another egg in the 4th quarter, he taps out. He should’ve seen the look of resignation on his face when he fouled Pingris.

This was a failed marriage even before the engagement. Jackson Vroman and Ginebra Basketball are just not made for each other —- just like myself and the girl who busted me.[6] The Ginebra way requires you to be tough and strong, fan-loving and kind, arrogant yet focused. Jackson Vroman just was every bit the opposite of that. It’s just effin sad and frustrating to see a guy you barely have a connection with to ruin everything, to quit on you, to quit on the whole Barangay.

So what now? What’s the use of looking back and criticizing when you can do nothing about it?

Well for one, Vroman’s case shows you how hard it is to get a quality import. If you’re the Ginebra scouting team you think that you’ve exhausted every way possible to verify Vroman’s credibility, and that happened. You can scout someone’s game as much as you like but who thought that his character could inexplicably suck as much as it did. There’s just no way a scout can be sure of what a player is made of.

In contrast, Vroman’s case also tells the Ginebra management that it can always do a better job at picking an import. Jackson Vroman obviously didn’t know what he signed up for. He had no idea how ruthless BGK fans can be; that they can eviscerate your insides with criticisms and insults. He was ignorant of the truth that the PBA is way more physical than the NBA or the Euroleague. Maybe Ginebra management should have classes for new imports —- think of it, Introduction to Barangay Ginebra Culture. O ‘di ba?

Jackson Vroman. This is for the Ginebra fans, PACK YOU KA SA EART!!!


[1] This is the first of three times in this article that I’d be questioning Piolo’s manhood or lack thereof.

[2] I felt their pain. I cried when the Lakers eliminated my T’Wolves back in ’04, all because of freaking Kareem Rush!

[3] If there was a Worst Import Ever Award in the PBA, Adam Parada would be tied with Davonn Harp! Wait, Harp wasn’t an import! My bad!

[4] The positive for all Pinoys here is that Gilas players know kung sino asar-talo when they face Lebanon.

[5] Yancy De Ocampo was the second most impressive local in that series behind Marc Pingris. That’s how well he played; or if you’re a pessimist, that’s how much he sucked before!

[6] Bitter much???? Hahahaha That was for you ******

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