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PBA: Baculi on the way out; Pumaren eyed

JUNEL Baculi

by Tito S. Talao

Having acquired from the rookie draft the ingredients he believes will make them most competitive in the 39th PBA season, Globalport team owner Mikee Romero reportedly is now scouting around for the one last piece that will complete the puzzle: a new coach.

The Batang Pier have one, the fiery Junel Baculi, who has been conducting team practice and was at Robinson’s Place in Ermita, as with Romero, when the Batang Pier welcomed rookies Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia and Isaac Holstein with the 5th, 6th and 7th pick in the first round last Sunday.

But a source bared Baculi wore out his own welcome after he failed to put a lid on his temper during a crucial playoff game with Rain or Shine in the recent Governors’ Cup, resulting in his ejection for a second technical late in the third quarter.

The Elasto Painters went on to beat the rudderless Batang Pier, ruining Globalport’s biggest chance at making it to the semifinals.

Romero apparently never forgot.

“Boss Mikee felt the team was abandoned when it had a chance to win the game,” the source said.

Three names have been mentioned as possible replacements – the Racela brothers, Nash and Olsen, and Alaska Milk assistant Alex Compton.

Nash, coach of Far Eastern University, is an assistant to Norman Black at Talk ‘N Text.

A source said Romero was initially partial to Nash Racela since Olsen appeared set on relearning the ropes as part of Tim Cone’s staff at San Mig Coffee following an ill-starred stint as Petron Blaze head coach.

But the thought of winning over Compton, who many believe was instrumental in the Aces’ 2013 Commissioner’s Cup championship series sweep of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, is apparently as alluring.

“Pinag-iisipan talaga ni boss Mikee,” the source said. “Noong una, okey na siya ke coach Nash, pero ngayon gusto niyang subukan kung puwede si Alex Compton.”

FRANZ Pumaren

Another coach who Romero reportedly has his eyes on is Air21’s Franz Pumaren.

“A yun wala nang tanungan; pag available si coach Franz, sigurado na siyang kukunin ni boss,” the source said.

Contacted by Tempo, Baculi said he serves at Romero’s pleasure even as he admitted the news came as a shock.

“I had no inkling. Wala namang kumakausap sa’kin,” said Baculi during team practice at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center yesterday.

In the absence of any formal notification from management, Baculi said “I will continue to do my job. Unless they tell me to stop.”

The source said that it’s only a matter of time before the order comes down.

To which Baculi responded: “I won’t mind; professional naman tayo e.”

With Compton not likely to be released by Alaska management – as indicated by Aces coach Luigi Trillo, who told Spin.ph that “I don’t think it’s gonna happen in the next three years” – and with Olsen Racela enjoying his return to San Mig Coffee (formerly Purefoods, his original team) as an assistant to Tim Cone, the job could fall on the lap of Nash Racela, the Far Eastern University mentor.

“Okey naman si boss Mikee kay coach Nash e,” the source said, adding Globalport could buy out the remainder of Baculi’s contract.

As for Baculi – “Tumanda na tayo sa basketball. Nangyayari talaga mga bagay na yan. Basta tayo, trabaho lang. Maybe I’ll seek an audience with boss Mikee. Then let’s see what happens.”