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THE KAIZEN IN JONAS VILLANUEVA

During a team gathering, Jonas Villanueva, intently listened to the priest’ lecture on Kaizen and he was moved. So moved was he that he sought to improve his career, his life.

Rewind.

After the Second World War, Japan was pummeled to the ground and hopes of rising from the ashes seemed dim. With the impetus to ascend from annihilation, the Japanese adopted a philosophy that has elevated them to a global economic powerhouse: Kaizen.

“Kai” literally means to change, and “zen” translated is good. It means improvement, a philosophy that focuses on continuous enhancement throughout all aspects of life. As a business strategy, Kaizen calls for never-ending efforts for progress involving everyone in the organization, from the President of the company, to the lowly laborer. But in essence, it’s a concept that can be applied in every person’s life.

Born to a family with 11 children, Jonas Villanueva is the middle child, being the sixth-born and wedged right in between elder siblings who are professionals, and siblings who are still studying. Parents, Gerry and Edith Villanueva of Bgy. Bunlo, Bocaue, Bulacan have produced a lawyer, a doctor, a banker, an entrepreneur, an engineer, and now most recently a Finals MVP and Most Improved Player in the PBA. Parents were very stringent about studying and they had so dedicated their lives to ensuring that their brood would get good education. All those years toiling over numerous businesses like bakery, poultry, wood depot and even fireworks just to bring up the children have ensured an optimistic future.

“We saw how much our parents sacrificed, so in return, we also worked hard” said Jonas who harked back about how his dad really paved the way for his love for sports which he revealed wasn’t first basketball.

“I actually liked boxing” he reminisced. But to dissuade him, his father had him fight one elder brother at a time a few rounds each, till he got to the eldest, tallest brother who dropped him. That TKO knocked some sense into him and had him enrolling in his first summer basketball camp when he was 9. Full of zip was the young, athletic Jonas that when the game got competitive at age 11, he started visualizing and setting goals. It was then that he knew he wanted to become a professional basketball player.

As a high school freshman, he admits to being a slow starter. He started as a bench player behind phenoms like Magnum Membrere and worked his way up. Even before he knew the concept, Jonas was already living the Kaizen way.

But an invitation from his Tita Belen Kuwaye residing in Los Angeles came about that had him continue his secondary education there till he went to Sta. Monica Jr. College for Business Management. He never stopped playing, never stopped mastering his game. He also went through a transformation as a Christian with the teachings of the Faith in Christ church which enriched his life and strengthened his belief in God.

While on vacation in the Philippines, September 11 happened and new Homeland Security acts made it difficult for him to go back to the US. He therefore found himself in the roster of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws. What was first seen as a temporary setback became a true blessing in disguise. Jonas was raised to make the most out of situations, and so he did. Along the way, he even bagged the heart of Jessica Gallegos, a beautiful commercial model turned preschool teacher who also comes from a litter of dozen kids and is as zealous as he is about life and the future.

Fast forward to the 2007 PBA Draft when then Magnolia Beverage Masters drafted him 9th overall. But instead of riding a high horse, his confidence went down the drain as he sat on the bench for most part of his rookie season playing behind veteran playmaker Olsen Racela and the steadfast LA Tenorio, then a Beerman.

Kaizen is based on making little changes on a regular basis to improve productivity and effectiveness, and with this philosophy, he focused, he worked, he prepared to make things better. That was the goal.

But he was fazed when Mike Cortez came after being led to think that he’d be next in line when Tenorio got traded. He actually thought management didn’t see much in him but he was absolutely wrong. In fact they gave him the chance to take a more active role in the all-Filipino conference in his sophomore season but Jonas himself said he was “lacking leadership skills and defense”. He was in a tough situation knowing that in a team like San Miguel, one won’t get too many chances because of the plethora of talent ready to step in anytime.

Enter the Bonfire. BonBon Custodio was confident, was aggressive going to the hoop, and was deemed the next in line. Jonas had to keep at it and not give up.

Kaizen is based on making transformations anywhere it can be made. And so, Jonas worked hard to transform himself to a take-charge player just in time for the 2009 Motolite Fiesta Conference and while the Cool Cat was nursing an ACL injury. With the Beermen playing without an import in their conference-debut, Jonas Villanueva had his breakout game against the Alaska Aces securing an electrifying and career-high 27 points which came with six rebounds and two assists en route to a 93-89 win for SMB. He revealed he was secretly wishing for coach Siot Tanquingcen to throw him a compliment, but later he realized, no compliments needed to be exchanged.

The ultimate approval came in the form of a Most Improved Player award which was a surprise even to him. “There were so many who improved their games from (Barako Bull’s) Gabby Espinas to (Burger King’s) JR Quinahan so I am so grateful for the award. It made me want to work harder”.

“Things didn’t happen overnight. My success in this past conference was a result of my work in my rookie season” beamed the Beerman who was riding on the crest of the team’s triumphant wave all the way to the Finals.

“It was tough to play against Ginebra with the crowd and playing against the best point guard in the league. I was thinking win or lose, I’m going to learn something. I just have to give it my all and work hard”, shared Villanueva.

Finals Game 1, from a time out with a minute left, the broken play intended for Jay Washington saw Jonas with the ball and he decided to drive hard to the basket, cutting Ginebra’s lead by 2 in a game the Beermen eventually lost. But despite losing that initial finals chapter, it was a defining moment for the first time finalist.

“I realized I can play at this level, and that set the tone for the series for me. I realized I can make good decisions”.

That attitude eventually saw him hoist the Finals MVP award after an arduous 7-game crusade, in front of a blissful team, a jovial fan base, a proud family and a beaming girlfriend whom he intends to share the rest of his life with.

Back to Kaizen.

One of the challenges in adopting the kaizen strategy is assuring its continuity. When something new is introduced, success occurs, then fades. But it’s difficult to imagine how success will fade away in Jonas who is addicted to winning, hard work, and living the dream. Jonas lives and breathes the “positive change philosophy”, from the time he stopped boxing to the time he kept fighting. The saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Kaizen takes that to another level; “do it better, improve it even if it isn’t broken, because if we don’t, we can’t compete with those who do”.

This is the strategy of Jonas Villanueva, 2009 Motolite Fiesta Conference Finals MVP and the 2008-09 season’s Most Improved Player

JAPETH AGUILAR'S CROSSROADS

An American political advisor by the name of Anthony Robbins once said “You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Don't think about who you have been. Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.”

These might be words that Japeth Aguilar need to ponder upon as he makes what could be the most important decision of his life. Will he enter the PBA, try his luck with the NBDL and maybe make it to the NBA, or play for flag and country – either for the Powerade Team Pilipinas or the Smart Gilas Developmental team?

He made a good account for himself in his first spectacle during the RP team’s electrifying tune up game against the visiting Soldiers for Christ squad last July 2. He immediately got the crowd on their feet with a slam and a couple of ego-shattering blocks! Although Aguilar himself says he didn’t get his rhythm going until the second half and gave his performance a 7 out of 10 because he wanted to churn things up more on the offensive, he made fans eat up all the hype. Skeptics were made believers as he made his defensive presence felt and had everyone salivating at the skills he brought home.

Japeth recalls making an easy decision to leave for the United States to play for the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers three years ago. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to play for a school with 40 conference championships which is the third most in NCAA history? Already, Japeth is etched in history as the first Philippine-born player to be recruited by a Division-1 program. Three years under Coach Darrin Horn and Coach Ken McDonald taught him so much on preparation for the game, putting in the extra work, and discipline. Needless to say he also came back with more muscle, height, speed, and flare.With baited breath, interested parties wait for his decision.

Japeth has numerous things to consider. His family for one.

His father, former PBA player Peter Aguilar has truly nourished his children’s love for the game. Even the younger Micah played for Assumption. Japeth is filled with memories of him and his father shooting around, getting pointers on his technique, and always getting grilled on the importance of hard work.

“My dad pushed me and is my main motivator”, he shared. Definitely what his parents think weigh heavily. Being the loving son that he is, Japeth also revealed that he wishes to help his family out.

Entering the pros may be the way to go for that. The rookie salary is already a bit more than what the NBDL would offer, and then endorsement offers could come to play and other money-making opportunities. Not that his family is needing. Japeth just envisions himself giving back to his parents.

Undoubtedly he’ll make himself available for the National Team. But should he go pro, transitioning to the Smart Gilas squad may be shelved.

Another factor Japeth would consider is the possibility of being the first Filipino in the NBA.

That would mean going back to the US for the National Basketball Developmental League. Japeth would be perfect for the NBDL because of his youth and raw talent. They see a lot of potential in the 24 year- old project, preferring him over the senior (even more talented) players who would be too old by the time they finish the NBDL program. No wonder he was mentioned on ESPN as one of the players that scouts are looking at. Japeth said “this is a chance of a lifetime”, so he might not want to pass it up.

There’s also the love factor.

Japeth is engaged to former Western Kentucky University varsity member Jessica Magley who finished Political Science and is currently taking up her masters degree. Is she willing to move here to the Philippines and suspend her pursuit of her own career? Japeth though truly believes that Jessica will support him in his decisions.

Japeth is at a crossroads in his life, in his career. He must “make it consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.”

Racela vs. Tubid - Round 1?

An intense and animated matchup...





Tubid elbows Racela right smack on his face








Olsen checks the damage








Racela obviously pissed









Tubid confronts Racela.
Olsen basically was cussing him down as Ronald tried to explain his side and actually apologize.




They don't care that the ref's there...


Tubid's reasoning falling on deaf ears.... Talk to the hands!


Tubid: Pare, sorry na nge e. I didn't mean to hurt you.
Olsen: Hmmmpf!
Ref: Get your hands off him!





Will we see them go at it again tonight?
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Danny I. - the conclusion

Danny Ildefonso is penalized P30,000
Pingris fined P10,000
Both are suspended and will miss GAME 3.


Here's NBA's take on VERBAL FAN INTERFERENCE
Any spectator who verbally abuses players and/or coaches in a manner which, in the opinion of the game officials, interferes with the ability of a coach to communicate with his players during the game and/or huddles, will, at the direction of the crew chief, be given one warning by a building security officer. If the same spectator continues to behave in a like manner, the crew chief shall direct a building security officer to eject the spectator from the arena. (http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_m.html?nav=ArticleList.)

I know we have a similar rule in the PBA.

The crew chief should've acted on the matter before it got out of hand... What do you think?

Mr. Nervadez probably is a respectable man, makes an honest living, and has a good family... We don't know who he really is, but the behavior he showed basically speaks volumes of his character.

Danny Ildefonso is one of the best players out there. He's actually a real nice guy if you get to talk to him, he's charitable (supports the Jesus Loves the Little Children Foundation and others), a good husband and father, and he's a competitor.

A lot of people will ofcourse say that Mr. Nervadez was asking for it and he should've been taught a lesson (tho I'm sure the trauma will linger for a loooooong time).

Many will argue that Danny I., and even Pingris had no right to rush to the stands. No matter how rude the fan got, they should've just walked away from it.


I'd like to know what you think.

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Danny I. Part 6

Mr. Nervadez getting escorted out... I heard (just heard) that he cried... Don't know if there's any truth to that, but if I were a man who had the consequences of my acts blow up in my face and almost got massacred because of my sheer stupidity, I guess I'd cry too.
Look at:
-Coach Allan Caidic
- Cyrus Baguio and his shirt
-Pingris and his anger
- and Coach Jong.

- Ping was obviously still livid!!!! Even the junkyard Dawg needs to be reinforced by Freeman...
(side note, Coach Jong in this photo is looking at Comm Barrios about to tell him what he thinks went wrong and how it could've been prevented)



Parting shot!


Danny I. Part 5

Danny I. was so strong that it took coach Art (who I heard got elbowed in the face twice by Pingris during the ordeal), Samigue Eman, and those buff (ish) Araneta security guys to stop him.








... oh and coach Pido. (where did he come from?)


Wesley, Bonbon (who's been sick) and Mick give the rowdy fan the evil eye, while Danny I is pulled back from the stands.

Danny I. Part 4

Danny I. went for it again....
I don't know who this guy in purple is, but man is he brave! Mr. Nervadez should send him a "thank you for saving my behind" card.

Here's coach Art jumping on Danny I...

Danny I. Part 3

The Man Holds his ground because Danny was being held back. But look behind the "Motolite" sign.....





Pingris wanted a piece of that!
Ping said he heard some people saying "Ikutan nyo si Danny" or something to that effect... He basically thought the fan's posse was gonna jump Danny I, so he went on the offensive...
Check out Mr. Man over there now running away....

Danny I. Part 2




See the lady in front of Danny I.? That's the look of FEAR
- Danny I was going after.....

.....this man with the glasses, white shirt, and the "come and get it" look

The DANNY I. Incident

After San Miguel evened out the best of 7 Finals series against Bgy. Ginebra in Game 2, everyone thought the drama ended at the final buzzer..... They were soooo wrong!

Ferdinand De Guzman Nervadez, a 40 year old Business man who hails from Malabon, paid good money to get patron seats right by Ginebra's bench, and behind the goal post.

So into the game was Mr. Nevadez, that he, along with thousands in attendance, was as emotionally charged as the war-tested, hungry Beermen and Gin Kings.

Apparently, he was taunting Jay Wash, bad words, dirty finger and all, till he caught the eye of Danny I who was at the free throw line. Mr. Nervadez suddenly shifted all the "love" to Ildefonso.

What's a player to do? Ask him to take it outside, ofcourse!





---- Kita tayo sa labas!

-

Then Danny I rushed the stands.......