NBA and Stock Trading

With the 2013-2014 just concluded, and recent surge in the Philippine Stock Exchange stock market, I can’t help but compare stocks with NBA players.

stock-tradingBoth stocks and NBA players are assets, but not all assets have the same value. In the NBA, general managers gauge value of players not only in how they contribute on the court but also on how much are their contracts.

With the help of advanced analytics, players are assessed according to multiple metrics including plus/minus (did their team lose or gain leads or deficits when they’re on the floor), player efficiency rating (measure of per-minute production) and true shooting percentage (shooting efficiency which combines 2-pt and 3-pt field-goals and free-throw percentages), among others.

But other factors in trading are also as important. This includes player’s age (younger ones have potential, older ones have declining productivity and injuries may take longer time to heal, and peak ones are likely at their most efficient stage of their careers), how much they are paid, how well they make teammates better, how long are their contracts and less significant ones such as trade kickers.

nba_tradesFor stock market, we look at the fundamental and technical analysis for every stock, how is the industry performing, competition and whether it has growth prospects or has saturated in the market. Of course, there is no one factor that determines the value of stock, but various signals and trends that point to certain direction.

If the market is up today, should I sell for profit or wait for tomorrow if it’s going to go further up? If the market is down, should I buy or wait for tomorrow when I expect the share price hits rock-bottom? In the business of NBA basketball trade, should we trade an expiring contract or risk losing without a compensation if a player leaves for free agency or gets injured?

Indeed, as “trade” is the common term between NBA trade and stock trading, another thing common between the two is “uncertainty.”


Why Time Flies Faster When You Get Older

As I grow older, the concept of time moving faster becomes more evident every single day. Friends say, ang bilis ng panahon, parang kailan lang, etc.

Why is it so?

1. Routine makes time go faster. When we’re new to a place, or first day at work, time seems to move rather slowly, just like any other memorable time (your wedding, first visit to a place you dreamed of going to). But when it becomes a routine, we become more comfortable but also makes time seem to pass by faster.

time-warp2. You get preoccupied with more things. This is my theory. When we’re younger, we have smaller circle of friends, fewer birthday parties to attend to, and fewer commitments to pay attention to. As we grow older we have more responsibilities, and fulfilling them becomes more challenging. With finite amount of time, and more things to squeeze, we think of time flying as we’re very much preoccupied with a variety of things.

3. Relative time alive. When we celebrated our second birthday, the past year is 50% of our entire life. But when we’re a hundred, our first year is just 1% of it which makes us think that time moves much faster because we have plenty of years (and experiences) back we can compare with.

Kiddie Memories of Second Grade

Facebook not only brings people closer — finding long-lost friends and acquainting new ones — it also rekindles old memories, as old photos emerge.


Like this photo of birthday party of Rey Amador Bargamento, a classmate in second grade of Mrs Florita Papin’s Grade 2 Zinnia. From left: Leah Mae Bargamento (Rey’s sister), Michael Almario, April Labagala, Ramir Bargamento (Rey’s brother), Elisa Yana, Rizza Rizada, Rey Amador Bargamento, Genielyn Lirazan, Hazel Magpuyo, Felicisimo Celebrar Jr, Christopher Bermudez, me, Ana Victoria Melgarejo and Michael Monteverde.

Birthday parties didn’t have the fancy decorations (it was held at Rey’s home), elaborate costumes (no masks, hats or special motif) or Bozo the clown to entertain us. We were a behaved bunch, especially under Mrs Papin’s watchful eyes.

Trip to Guimaras with UIC Non-Teaching Personnel

At UIC, we were granted yearly religious retreats.

While teachers take a break off from their classes, we spend every day in summer supposed to go to work. So such retreats come as a good break from the daily grind in the office. Although the idea of retreats is not new to me — I spent five years in the university exposed to this kind of recollections — such announcements are often greeted with excitement. Not only we get a few day’s break from work with pay, we also get to travel all-expense paid for by our employer.

Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that non-teaching personnel behave like students when we’re out there. Everybody knows everyone, and for some reason, I felt attached to everybody maybe because once in a while I come to offices and fix computers or teach staff how to use Office applications. (We at the Computer Center, are quasi-members of the non-teaching group since we are also given teaching loads during the school year.)

In my three years in UIC, I had the chance to join two of such memorable company retreats. First was in Cebu where we stayed at Betania Retreat House in Lahug. There about forty of us stayed for a couple of days, listen to teachings and had the opportunity to do a reflection, something that’s ironically hard to come by even in a religious environment (UIC is run by a congregation of nuns) because daily work is often overwhelming.

The following year, just before I left UIC, I was privileged to join the group for a trip to Guimaras, an enchanting place famous for the renowned Philippine mango. Yes, the best Philippine mangoes can be found in the province. The local government is so serious that no outside mangoes are allowed into the province to prevent contamination of its prized export-quality product.

Guimaras sunshine: on top of the ubiquitous jeepney somewhere in Nueva Valencia, with Jerry Flores and Noel Laud, 1999.

For once a year, we are all given the chance to occupy a moment of silence during these retreats, even if it’s sandwiched between moments of excitement as we explore places we’ve never been to before. Those sober moments also allowed me to ponder what are my immediate plans. I’ve been with UIC for almost eight years. Five years as a student, and remainder as as an employee of the same university.

I felt stable at work, comfortable with tasks and earn decent wage. But everytime I see my college classmates arrive from work abroad and share their stories over pints of beer and expensive dishes they treat us classmates, I get the urge to move on.

At the moment, we’ll have to enjoy this short break offered by the school. Our retreat house offered great facilities but what impressed me even more is the seclusion of the place and perfect landscape to meditate about life. After we concluded the retreat, the group headed from Guimaras to Iloilo, cutting through the interior of Panay island on our way to Malay, Aklan and Boracay. Joining us were faculty members of Pharmacy department who may have come from another retreat. As we concluded our annual retreat, I wonder when can I visit this place again, as I always do as I leave a place that left me a great impression.

During the overland journey, I felt sick. Thankfully, Ma’am Jaranilla was kind enough to offer relief, so I was able to appreciate that brief visit to Boracay.

Favorite Nineties Music

Just like the “golden age” a decade earlier that produced many of my all-time favorite tunes, the nineties were a time when plenty of great music — at least to my taste — was produced.

Fuel – Shimmer

New Radicals – You Get What You Give

Semisonic – Closing Time

Tonic – If You Could Only See

Blind Melon – No Rain

Third Eye Blind – Never Let You Go

The Cranberries – Linger

Alice in Chains – No Excuses

Dishwalla – Counting Blue Cars

Garbage – Only Happy When It Rains

Goo Goo Dolls – Naked

Live – Selling the Drama

Radiohead – Thinking About You

Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm

Gin Blossoms – Found Out About You

Juliana Hatfield – My Sister

High School Reunion

My wife and I recently watched The American Reunion, the latest sequel to the American Pie chain of films I have come to consider as one of my most favorite movies (along with Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and 3 Idiots).

The timing of the movie couldn’t be more perfect for me. My high school class will celebrate its 20th year this year. This year also happens to be the 15th anniversary since college graduation. Sadly, I am not coming to either simply because there is no reunion being organized. It seemed that I belong to a batch of classmates who don’t care much about reminiscing what may be called “golden years”. Or at least don’t consider them as priorities.

I was not in the photo.

As I left the doors of Holy Cross of Mintal to pursue bigger dreams, I had this feeling that one day, I will be back in the campus and reunite with friends some ten or twenty years later and wait for my turn to narrate my journey so far.

High school life has been one of the most memorable moments for everyone, including me. Mimicking teacher mannerisms, school breaks and outings, revelation of crushes over a game of spin a bottle are among them. High school reunion is a perfect dose to take a break from the so-called real world and possibly discover a long-kept secret revealed during those half-drunk conversations.

“Jonathan was a black belter”.

“We composed a TV commercial featuring the surnames of Ms Genise, Ms Miclat, and so on.”

“I just couldn’t tell that seatmate she has that awfully bad breathe”, referring to someone who was conspicuously absent in the gathering.

We could print shirts simulating the activity colors worn every Wednesday — especially made for the reunion. We could sing ‘To Christ Through Mary’ and award a prize to someone who can name all class sections during our time or remember names of subject teachers. We could play a trivia game: what is Sr Anne Marie Noveda’s middle name. What is the name of the shop guys hang out and watch VHS shows during lunch break. Who is the starting point guard of the basketball varsity. Who was the reason why the horizontal bar was eventually removed near the acacia tree. We can play games we actually played during intramurals from dodge ball or scrabble.

Lots of ideas brewing in my mind.

hcm_logoJoanne and Aldrin, our valedictorian and salutatorian respectively, could do a speech or, in the case of Joanne, do a live phone patch from her humble abode in Phoenix, Arizona if family and work load would deprive her attending the event. We can invite and honor our teachers, from Ma’am Alminaza to Sir Valero and from Ma’am Macaresa to Ma’am Recla. We would also do a special tribute to those who moved on, notably Sir Roland Picar.

Lots of ideas in my mind.

When I left HCM, we used to have those mini reunions during birthday parties, beach parties and karaoke sessions at Torres Street. Those parties evolved during times when we started to drift apart by means of some of us marrying early, others pursuing careers outside of Davao and eventually leaving the city for good. With nobody leading the way in organizing this so-called grand reunion, the idea fell out of our priorities, overlapped by more serious responsibilities in life: work and children.

One day, Sheila, a batchmate now based in Montreal, Quebec sent me a message proposing the idea of a reunion during their vacation in Davao. We started to inform classmates to scout for places, organize program and at least make this gathering a decent one. I was willing to book a ticket and make the trip. After all, this is what I’ve been waiting for. Dismissing earlier “reunions” held a year removed from high school would be justified if we stage a more meaningful event 20 years since singing Theme from Mahogany.

But for some reason, Sheila removed the Facebook event indicating that the event is cancelled. With my time divided between brutal stretch of work and family and community responsibilities, I find it hard to carry out organizing the event myself.

So memories won’t be relived this year, our turn to have a milestone reunion. Never mind, there’s 25 years, 50 years. But who knows who’ll be left behind to join the party or remember those funny high school anecdotes we used to poke fun at.

How The NBA Can Prevent ‘Tanking’

Around three fourth’s of NBA’s schedule — whether locked ou or not — top teams start clinching their respective divisions and conferences. This means they not only qualify for the playoffs, they also enjoy home court advantage.

But while teams in contention try to secure their playoff spots, teams languishing at the bottom heading for the draft lottery could be tempted to lose their remaining game. Wait, there is a term for this: tanking. By finishing at the bottom of the standings, and possibly disappointing season ticket holders in the process, teams bolster their chances on grabbing the coveted top draft picks via the lottery ball.

Do we expect all of these guys to be in street clothes in a game if the Warriors are fighting for a playoff position? (Photo credit: Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

We can’t blame them, right? Failure to land in the top eight position means the team is classified as lottery-bound. But why be contented on landing the 14th best player in the draft pool when you can covet the most promising college kid? The problem is, that promising kid is only available to the first team who gets the right to pick him. So when your team has the worst win-loss record in the league, it gets the highest probability of snatching the top pick, although it may be guaranteed at all times.

Doing so, games could become less competitive and lopsided wins will become common. Since good players on bad teams rarely play badly for their team to deliberately lose, they are shut down for various reasons (family matters, ear infection or any undisclosed reason). This is bad not only for season ticket holders, but also to fans who expect competitive basketball. After all, this is the NBA.

So how do we prevent teams from ‘tanking’?

Allocate top pick to lottery team with best record
This proposal was raised by Mike Greenberg of Mike & Mike in the Morning. With this setup, there is a consolation prize for missing the playoffs. Or rather, teams can select whether they wish to join the playoffs or grab the best available draftee. Either way, there is incentive in playing hard. But for teams who have the worst record, they get the 14th pick instead of the theoretical first pick overall. Right now, teams who just missed the playoffs appear to be in the worst position because a) did I just say, they missed the playoffs? and b) they have slim chances of picking the best of the pack.

This solution may not be welcome for perennial bottom-feeders (Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards) who try to discover the next superstar who could save the franchise.

Punish non-playoff teams every time they lose their remaining games
Or, create incentives for teams that fail to secure a playoff spot every time they win their remaining games. It can be setup that once they’re playoff chances are mathematically eliminated their win-loss record will be closely monitored. Every loss would mean weakening their probability of landing the top draft pick.

In such cases, while not perfect, could still inspire fans to cheer for teams to stay competitive instead of tanking their game for the sake of that coveted top rookie prospect.

Adidas Adimatic: Still Looking

One of the first things I searched for, upon arriving in Hong Kong, is one particular style of adidas shoes: ADIMATIC. It’s the best pair of shoes I ever had. Not the most good-looking but certainly it offered best comfort. Alas, it’s been ten years and still no Adimatic in sight. I stumbled upon similar ones (yes, Adiprene, I am referring to you) but nothing compares. The search — no matter how desperate — continues…


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