Even before the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs had commenced, then KIA Picanto team manager Eric Pineda had already announced that team is willing to trade its 1st round pick in the upcoming rookie draft for veterans who could immediately create an impact, for players who are certified game changers.
Now, it sounds like a pretty logical decision, given that the expansion team is in dire need of players who can step up when the game is on the line. It really seemed like a sensible direction to take, until you consider their previous moves. They dismantled the core of a team which made it to the playoffs of last season’s Governors’ Cup without getting commensurate assets in return.
KIA traded away promising talents in Aldrech Ramos, Bradwyn Guinto, Paolo Taha, Joseph Eriobu, Karl Dehesa and Keith Agovida. Released certified scorers KG Canaleta and Michael DiGregorio without getting anything in return.
The result was not surprising as the team finished dead last the following season.
However, something good transpired for the franchise as playing coach Manny Pacquiao didn’t renew his contract with the team. Team manager Eric Pineda and assistant Jo Ramos, close associates of the boxer slash Philippine senator, left the squad as well.
Team consultant Joe Lipa assumed the role vacated by Pineda.
Now, what seemed like a fresh start for the struggling franchise was just too good to be true as Lipa nonchalantly reiterated the team’s desire to part with the top overall pick.
When asked to explain why they would want pass up the privilege of choosing the best talent available, the former UAAP and PBA coach had this to say, “Christian Standhardinger is a great player. The boy has big potential. It just so happened that our philosophy is to play an unconventional type of basketball … we would like to shift to our philosophy which is there will be no positions.”
“As much as possible, we would like to concentrate on long shooting. Shooting from the outside means that height is not a requirement,” Lipa added.
To prove that Lipa’s statements are nonsensical to say the least, let’s lay down three things that will light it on fire.
Lipa may be the newly designated team manager but he was already the consultant as early as 2015, it goes without saying that he had in the team’s previous player movements.
First, he mentioned that the team’s philosophy is to play an unconventional type of basketball. Nobody among the 44 rookie hopefuls fit the bill? Are their standards that high? If they’re after a shooter, then there’s Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng and even Robert Herndon. Who said that they’re restricted to Standhardinger? With the top overall pick, it’s almost a sin to say that what you’re looking for is not there.
It’s a very simple problem with a very simple solution, and it’s just right under their noses.
Secondly, they’re now looking for a shooter. This after they released KG Canaleta and Mike DiGregorio. KIA simply dropped both players from the roster, which was really a head-scratcher given the solid performances of the two. They also traded Aldrech Ramos and even Karl Dehesa. Ramos emerged as the team’s top draw but still got the boot.
Incidentally, they gave away their 2nd overall pick in the 2015 rookie draft for Ramos and Canaleta.
And lastly, since they were dead serious in disposing of their pick, they could simply asked SMB for a shooter since that is what they’ve been looking for, and there’s none better in the Beermen’s roster than Marcio Lassiter. A package of Lassiter and either McCarthy or a future pick would have been more acceptable. But no, they settled for JayR Reyes, Ronald Tubid, McCarthy and a 2019 1st round pick.
Tubid is already nearing retirement at 36 years old, Reyes is 33 and is probably not in the best shape of his career anymore due to lack of exposure. McCarthy hardly saw action in his rookie season while the 2019 draft pick is still two years away and will surely be in the lower portion, around 10th to 12th.
Seriously, the average basketball fan could’ve made a better decision than Lipa. The only thing you need is common sense and a genuine desire to strengthen the team and you won’t have to look far. The 2017 rookie draft is just in front of you.
Surely, money played a big part in KIA’s decision. It’s been happening a lot lately and the league has been paying the steep price by playing in almost empty venues for majority of the conference. If not for the phenomenal drawing power of Brgy. Ginebra then who knows what’s to become of Asia’s first play for pay league.