The Columbian Dyip formally ended its 2017-2018 PBA season with yet another setback at the hands of its "batchmate" Blackwater Elite in Biñan, Laguna. They officially finished the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup with a lowly 1-10 slate and will miss the playoffs anew as they have in the previous two conferences.
The Dyip collated a 6-27 win-loss card for the season, tying its worst campaign just the previous year.
The franchise went through two coaching changes during the season as Chris Gavina-the only mentor to steer the squad to a playoff appearance in the 2016 Governors' Cup-was replaced in December by Ricky Dandan who in turn resigned prior to the end of the Commissioner's Cup and was succeeded by Jon Cardel.
It is also ironic that Columbian's season concluded on the anniversary of the controversial trade approval by then PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa allowing the struggling franchise to deal away its top overall selection in the 2017 Draft to powerhouse San Miguel in exchange for three role players, citing an "unconventional" approach it intended to pursue for the new season.
That trade, which eventually turned out to be for Christian Standhardinger, led to a squabble within the PBA Board of Governors and the resignation of Narvasa from the league's top post.
Now, Columbian Dyip are back where they were a year ago: out of the playoffs, with the top pick in the upcoming PBA Draft on December 16 but this time with a young core that could create a different outcome for the team in the 2018-2019 season which begins in January.
The "unconventional" approach didn't gain much ground as the franchise stumbled out of the gates and managed only a solitary win in the Philippine Cup. With Dandan getting a better feel for the talent he had to work with, the team won its first two contests and three of its first four in the Commissioner's Cup. It also helped that 6'9" reinforcement John Fields came in to lead the league in rebounds at almost 20 caroms per outing and it began looking like the "unconventional" approach was bearing fruit.
However, teams adjusted and despite their best efforts, The Columbian Dyip could only muster a 4-7 record and barely missed the playoffs.
With the insertion of Cardel at the onset of the Governors' Cup, Columbian lost four of its first five contests in nail-biting fashion. But after being destroyed by San Miguel in one of the worst massacres of the year, it began spiralling downwards anew and now they are officially eliminated.
The one odd accomplishment Columbian achieved this season is having beaten the same team, Rain or Shine, three times-a feat it had never accomplished since entering the league. The Elasto Painters failed to register a single win against arguably the weakest team in the league. In the Philippine Cup and in this Governors' Cup, Columbian's sole triumphs were at the expense of the former two-time PBA champions.
What they need
The league recently came out with a new ruling that the team that holds the top overall pick in the PBA Draft is no longer allowed to trade it away.
However, that rule will only be in effect for the 2019 PBA Draft, meaning the Columbian Dyip may once again opt to forego its draft rights and rebuild via trades and free agency (as they tried to do with minimal success this season).
Columbian has a pretty good base core.
Former practice team journeyman Jerramy King, at certain points of the Commissioner's and Governors' Cup, led the PBA in scoring and is now a bonafide star on the rise who might even get votes for the coveted Most Improved Player award in the Leo Awards. Rashawn McCarthy was the catalyst during the Philippine Cup when he suddenly began averaging close to 20 points a game after barely playing 20 minutes in total with his former team. This combo can indeed be Columbian's cornerstone.
Add to this the emergence of Jackson Corpuz who had toiled in the PBA D-League and elsewhere after going undrafted in the 2013 PBA Draft, but has produced solid numbers especially in the season-ending campaign.
Carlo Lastimosa, Reden Celda, rookies Jon Gabriel and Andreas Cahilig, along with a phalanx of veterans including Jay-R Reyes, Ronald Tubid and Dylan Ababou, could have this team one draft pick, one trade and one free agent signing away from relevance.
If Columbian holds its draft selection, it has a rich pool to choose from in the first round with CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, Paul Desiderio and even former Gilas trooper Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. (if he decides to finally make the jump) to choose from. If they will be able to snare sleepers such as Aris Dionisio, Michael Ayonayon and even Andre Paras somewhere down the line in the second round, then the team that has traditionally been expected to lose may follow in the footsteps of the modest success its "batchmate" Blackwater has achieved thus far.
The Columbian Dyip have some good foundation to work with and the coach that could actually make things work.
It may be an early Christmas break for the squad, but they could be primed for marked improvements come January, if they play their December right.