NLEX gets solid wingman, mentor to Kevin Alas from Phoenix in 5-player trade

With the goal of coming out with a far more competitive roster to surround ageless slotman Asi Taulava, NLEX fired the initial trade salvo on Thursday sending veteran forward Mark Borboran, promising rookie guard Simon Enciso as well as its 2018 2nd round pick to Phoenix in exchange for wingman Mac Baracael and pint-sized playmaker Eman Monfort.

NLEX team manager Ronald Dulatre admitted both teams found a way to strike a “win-win” deal after back-and-forth negotiations the past 3 weeks.

“Sa tingin naman namin with Phoenix, when we did that for the last 3 weeks na nagu-usap kami, tingin namin win-win situation ito for both teams,” Dulatre said when contacted by FOX Sports to comment.

The trade papers were already forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner on Thursday after lunch. PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa will be reviewing on the trade before making the final decision anytime soon.

The amiable NLEX team executive feels the 31-year-old Baracael fits just right into the team because of his ability to play the three-spot, or post-up when needed.

Baracael, a key member of the original Smart-Gilas team mentored before by Serbian Rajko Toroman, posted decent stats line of 9.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist with Phoenix in the Commissioner’s Cup.

The 6-foot-3 former Far Eastern University standout is a noted outside gunner, shooting 34.5 percent from the 3-pint zone in the mid-season conference.

“We think we need a 3-man, and Mac is a solid guy. Nataon naman open si Phoenix with Mac and we sorted some package,” explained Dulatre, whose team limped off to a 5-7 record in the Commissioner’s Cup.

On the other hand, the 5-foot-6 Monfort, selected 16th overall in the 2012 PBA Draft, is seen more as a mentor to sophomore playmaker Kevin Alas.

The former Ateneo guard played alongside Alas in the PBA D-League with NLEX, making the trade a sort of homecoming.

“The good thing with Eman is he’s been with us for 2 years before in the D-League. He’s familiar with our system and he’s a winner,” said the NLEX team manager.

“I think he’ll be a good backup for Kevin Alas since we know Kevin still needs someone to mentor him and time to mature,” he added.

Phoenix, which posted a 3-8 card in the Commissioner’s Cup, adds a young and explosive playmaker in Enciso, who showed flashes of brilliance towards the tailend of the conference for NLEX. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava