The PBA annual Rookie Draft has yet to start, but teams already felt like winners following key acquisitions made in the off season.
With this, we ranked the Top 5 game-changing transactions made by these squads.
5. MERALCO BOLTS (Acquiring Mac Belo for guard Baser Amer)—The Meralco Bolts made some headway in last year’s PBA Bubble tournament when it traded guard Baser Amer for Blackwater star forward Mac Belo.
For head coach Norman Black, it’s one way of toughening up his front court as he was able to pick up a former UAAP champion and ex-Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, who is capable of playing on both ends of the court and could bring athleticism, length and toughness in the interior.
It’s also one way of unloading extra guards on the team as the Bolts already have Top Rookie guard Aaron Black, Nards Pinto and Anjo Caram and could also allow versatile player Chris Newsome to play the 1, 2 and 3 spots.
4. MAGNOLIA HOTSHOTS (Securing Calvin Abueva for Chris Banchero)—Call it a high risk move, but Magnolia wants to prove that Calvin Abueva is worth the risk and the Hotshots did just that when they took in the controversial energetic forward to their fold in exchange for guard Chris Banchero.
Similar to the case of Meralco where it needs to free up one of its talented guards to beef up its frontline, trading Banchero for Abueva is somewhat logical for the Hotshots, who also needed to switch places with the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the draft order to finalize the deal. Overall, the Hotshots were able to address the need for an intense forward, who could provide the intangibles for them and release an excess guard in its line up.
3. PHOENIX FUEL MASTERS (Acquiring Vic Manuel, Chris Banchero in separate deals)—Phoenix Super LPG was probably the busiest team in the off season. After falling a game short of making the championship round in last year’s bubble tournament, the Fuel Masters didn’t stop fueling up just to go the extra mile.
The Banchero trade for Abeuva was just the start of putting up the pieces for the puzzle and days later, the Fuel Masters engaged in a separate trade with the Alaska Aces for the services of marquee power forward Vic Manuel.
Never mind if the Fuel Masters had to give up their first-round pick next year as they are confident they can do well this coming season with a new and improved line up featuring key acquisitions like Manuel and Banchero joining the Fuel Masters’ loaded starting unit of Matthew Wright, Justin Chua and Jason Perkins.
Needless to say, the Fuel Masters also improved several notches higher in the PBA Rookie Draft order, moving from 10th to seventh following a series of trade transactions, which will give them a better chance of landing another talented player coming from the draft that is perceived to be the deepest since the 1989 edition.
2. SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN (CJ Perez for 3 players plus first round pick)—After seeing its five-season reign in the Philippine Cup coming to an end, the San Miguel Beermen felt they needed to rebuild their dynasty.
Aging and injured, the Beermen struck a deal with lowly Terrafirma Dyip and acquired their biggest star—CJ Perez.
The two-time PBA scoring champion was quickly plucked by the Beermen in exchange for center Russel Escoto, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Gelo Alolino plus San Miguel’s first round pick this year.
Imagine if a healthy San Miguel team would show up next season and the team will parade Perez playing the starting big guard, Chris Ross doing the quarterbacking chores, June Mar Fajardo returning at center spot, Arwind Santos at power forward, and Marcio Lassiter assuming the small forward spots and you have Alex Cabagnot, Mo Tautuaa and Von Pessumal off the bench. That’s a scary eight-man deep rotation.
1. BARANGAY GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL GIN KINGS (Acquiring Chistian Standhardinger for Greg Slaughter)—Talking about the best getting better, the PBA bubble champion even became formidable with the acquisition of former top overall rookie pick and 2019 Mythical Team Member Christian Standhardinger following a trade with the NorthPort Batang Pier.
Standhardinger, a 6’8” former Best Player of the Conference winner, will definitely form a solid tandem up front with high-leaping 6’9” forward Japeth Aguilar and create the latest twin towers version of Barangay Ginebra.
The Gin Kings won the bubble tournament last year without the services of the seven-foot Greg Slaughter, who sat out due to contractual issues. He returned in the off season and worked out with the Gin Kings before the trade was consummated.