The Alaska Aces and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters are currently battling in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals. Their participation in the finals have somewhat satisfied team owners and executives, thus, no lineup and coaching changes are needed (for now). As for the other teams who did not make it to the finals, coaching changes and/or trades are heavily pondered upon.
For GlobalPort, Phoenix and Star, their team management felt that they needed to perform a 3-way trade to give their respective teams better chances of doing well in the next conference and future seasons.
Here is a short take on the 3-way trade plus trade grades for each team:
GlobalPort Batang Pier
Traded to Star Hotshots: Jonathan Uyloan (guard) and Keith Jensen (forward)
Received from Star Hotshots: Ronald Pascual (forward) and Yousef Taha (center)
The Batang Pier are coming from a disappointing tournament where their best players (Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle) got injured, thus, GBP suffered through a 3-8 record and missed the playoffs. To prepare for the next conference, GBP decided to trade away Jonathan Uyloan, a guard who plays limited minutes and receives DNPs every now and then, together with small forward Keith Jensen who was part of the rotation. GBP does not have a lot of minutes available in their backcourt due to the dynamic duo of Pringle and Romeo, so trading Uyloan was understandable.
However, trading Jensen was somewhat surprising because Jensen averaged the most minutes among their frontcourt players and he played in all of their games. He is also a decent defender at his small forward position. Now, GlobalPort’s strength comes from their guards and they are in need of big men to support Doug Kramer, Billy Mammaril and Jay Washington. The ACL injury of Rico Maierhofer probably also pushed GBP to look for other bigs to help their roster.
The arrivals of Pascual and Taha will definitely bolster their roster. Overall, GBP appears to have a more balanced lineup after this trade.
Trade Grade: B
Phoenix Fuel Masters
Traded to Star Hotshots: RR Garcia (guard) and Rodney Brondial (forward)
Received from Star Hotshots: Mark Cruz (guard), Norbert Torres (center) and Jonathan Uyloan (guard)
The Fuel Masters also had a frustrating conference, just like GlobalPort, so participating in a trade was not surprising.
Nevertheless, the surprising portion was the trade of their #1 point guard, RR Garcia, to the Star Hotshots. Garcia, a former UAAP MVP, was the best player of Phoenix. During this season, he led them in points, threes made, assists and minutes played. In fact, Garcia was their best shooter and playmaker. He is just 26 years old and is yet to hit his prime.
Furthermore, there were some signs that indicated Garcia is nearly ready to take the next step to become an All-Star in the PBA (33-point game, 6th among locals in scoring).
To make matters worse for Phoenix, they also unloaded Rodney Brondial who was having a solid season for the Fuel Masters. Sure, Brondial is limited offensively but he makes up for that deficiency by hustling, rebounding and playing physical defense.
On a positive note, Phoenix received a pair of rookies, Mark Cruz and Norbert Torres, who were outstanding players in the collegiate ranks. However, they were not given sufficient opportunities to showcase their talents over at the Star Hotshots. So, the Fuel Masters hope that both Cruz and Torres display their talents with them when given the minutes.
As for Uyloan, he has the chance to be a starter or first guard off the bench since Garcia is gone. In the last 2 years, Uyloan has shown improvement from the three-point arc and his numbers reflect that: 33% from deep and 1 three per game.
Overall, this was an okay trade for Phoenix since they are “rebuilding” but they should have received a draft pick or a proven starter since they gave up the best player in this deal.
Trade Grade: C+
Traded to GlobalPort Batang Pier: Ronald Pascual (forward) and Yousef Taha (center)
Received from GlobalPort Batang Pier: Jonathan Uyloan (guard) and Keith Jensen (forward)
Traded to Phoenix Fuel Masters: Star Hotshots: Mark Cruz (guard), Norbert Torres (center) and Jonathan Uyloan (guard)
Received from Phoenix Fuel Masters: RR Garcia (guard) and Rodney Brondial (forward)
The Star Hotshots continued to falter with Coach Jason Webb at the helm. They haven’t reached the finals in 2 years after winning a Grand Slam. Thus, they sought to improve their team by shuffling the lineup through multiple trades.
Well, the Hotshots did a marvelous job since they managed to snag the best player (Garcia) in the 3-way trade. Typically, the team who gets the best player in the trade is considered the biggest winner.
The Hotshots are very happy that Garcia is now part of their team. He can start or come off the bench and he will probably be groomed to replace PJ Simon in their lineup when Simon eventually retires in a year or two. Can you imagine ex-FEU teammates Mark Barroca and RR Garcia playing together for Star? Aside from Garcia, they also have two new serviceable players who can immediately help their team win.
Moreover, Brondial and Jensen will be expected to play minutes at either forward spots. Both guys can give Marc Pingris a break and maybe the Hotshots are considering one or both of them as potential future versions of Pinoy Sakuragi, albeit a poor man’s version of Pingris.
Still, there is a negative part of this trade and that is the lack of centers for Star because they gave away Norbert Torres and Yousef Taha. This puts a lot of pressure on Rafi Reavis and Ian Sangalang to contribute when given minutes at the center spot.
Overall, Star is the runaway winner of this trade since they relinquished players that they hardly use, so their regular rotation will not be disrupted. In addition, they did not give up any draft picks and their roster is so much better after this trade.
Trade Grade: A – By Rolly Mendoza
Follow this writer on Twitter: @rollzter