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PBA: Mysterious move by Barako


by Waylon Galvez

Manila, Philippines – It’s a dream situation for any PBA team: Three picks in the top 10.

More so if that team is Barako Bull. But if reports are true, Barako Bull, one of the PBA’s most pathetic teams, is giving up its fourth, fifth and sixth picks for players who appear to be on the throes of being cut or retired.

Barako Bull officials can’t be reached for comment, declining to answer phone calls and texts.

Barako’s picks are reportedly going to Barangay Ginebra, which will get the fourth, Petron the No. 5 pick, and Globalport, the No. 6 pick. Ginebra already owns the first pick.

In exchange, Barako will get Dylan Ababou from Ginebra, Magi Sison and Mark Isip from Petron and Denok Miranda from Globalport.

It’s a mysterious situation which PBA Commissioner Chito Salud may like to look into. Because if these trades push through, it will make a travesty of the league and the PBA Draft Day tomorrow will look like an exercise in futility.

One wonders how Barako can miss the opportunity to strengthen its core. This is the team that placed ninth in the first two conferences but managed to gain the quarterfinals in the last conference.

This is a team that needs new blood, new faces and fresh talent.

Happily there’s much of that in this year’s draft class.

Sources said that these movements are likely to be announced on Draft Day.

Manila Bulletin tried to contact Barako Bull official Raffy Casyao, but calls were not answered and no replies to text message. Manny Alvarez, the team’s representative to the PBA Board of Governors, is still in Australia.

It’s quite intriguing why Barako Bull is throwing its picks to other teams and a chance to build up on young players like Jeric Teng of University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University teammates RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo, Ateneo’s Justin Chua, Ryan Buenafe and Nico Salva, and Arellano University’s James Forrester.

Instead, the Energy Cola will get role players.

Barako Bull will get former players in Ababou, the team’s No. 10 overall pick in the Draft back in 2011, and Isip, a veteran forward who had a brief stint with the team in 2010, a veteran guard in Miranda and a young center in 6-foot-7 Sison.

Miranda and Isip played together for Far Eastern University that won titles in the UAAP in 2003 and 2005, were with Petron Blaze that made it to the Finals of the previous Governors’ Cup. Miranda was actually dealt to Globalport for Chris Ross a few days back.

Ababou played for Barako Bull during the 2011 Philippine Cup but was shipped to Ginebra during the Commissioner’s Cup. Various injuries, however, kept him from reaching his potentials although he can still be a quality player when healthy.

Sison has played sparingly from the teams he played with since joining the PBA in 2011 – Shopinas/Air21, Ginebra and Petron – and it is still a question if he can find playing time in the veteran loaded frontline of Barako Bull.

Another problem for Barako Bull is the coaching staff.

After the team decided to part ways with Serbian consultant Rajko Toroman, Barako Bull is now in search for a head coach. Last season, Bong Ramos was the team’s “head coach”, but it was Toroman who actually called the shots for the team for two conferences.

Sources said that one of the possibilities to take over the head coaching post for Barako Bull is Petron assistant coach Leo Austria, who mentored the San Miguel Beermen to the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) championship recently.

Draft on ‘5’

TV5 will air live the PBA Rookie draft starting at 4 p.m. tomorrow.