Phoenix Super LPG was one win away from making the championship round of the recent PBA Bubble tournament and the team didn’t lose its promise even after losing Calvin Abueva.
In fact, the Fuelmasters got even better by securing the services of crack point guard Chris Banchero in the Abueva trade and their latest acquisition — Vic Manuel.
The Fuelmasters engaged in a multi-pick transaction on Tuesday with the Alaska Aces that will allow the 33-year-old veteran power forward to join forces with center Justin Chua and versatile forward Jason Perkins.
This means Phoenix Super LPG will have a loaded starting unit featuring the three front men with Banchero and top gun Matthew Wright playing in the backcourt.
“We’re very excited. Our goal lang naman talaga is to make our team better. We were able to fill up the spots that we’re lacking previously and with Vic in the line up, that will open up space for our shooters like Wright, Banchero, Perkins and Chua,” said Phoenix Super LPG team manager Paolo Bugia, who was elated that the team was still able to keep its first-round pick, although their selections in the first and second rounds will be adjusted following the Manuel trade.
In getting Manuel, Phoenix Super LPG had to switch first round and second round picks with Alaska, which means the Fuelmasters, who previously acquired the No. 6 overall pick from Magnolia in a previous trade with Abueva, will now select at No. 7. The Aces, who also got the services of veteran guard Brian Heruela in the deal as a kicker, will now pick at No. 6.
Both the Aces and the Fuelmasters also traded places in the second round, which means Alaska will now select at No. 16 and Phoenix will make its choice at No. 19. The Aces have an extra second-round pick, which they can also use in loading up their roster this coming season.
But while Phoenix Super LPG got better this season, it paid the team a stiff price as it was forced to give up its first-round pick next year in the Manuel trade.
For Manuel, it’s like having his wish granted. The hardworking forward had been vocal about leaving the Aces and wanting to play for another team and in joining the Fuelmasters, he will be reunited with Topex Robinson, his former coach at Alaska, who now serves as the head mentor of Phoenix Super LPG.
Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso said the team didn’t plan on getting Heruela, the stocky but dependable guard, but he was included in the mix by the PBA trade committee.
“Brian Heruela was an add on requested by the PBA. So we’re moving up on both rounds of the draft to get the guys we really want — and an extra first round draft next year,” said Cariaso.