There are no breaks when it comes to wheeling and dealing in the PBA. In the middle of the Comissioner’s Cup playoff race, teams in the bottom half of the standings made some moves to set themselves up for the next conference or for one final push for a playoff spot.
The NLEX Road Warriors, still winless this conference, were the centerpiece of two separate trades last week. One transaction was with the Mahindra Enforcers, while the other was a four-team trade involving the TNT Ka-Tropa. Meralco Bolts and GlobalPort Batang Pier.
SLAM PH decided to take a look at all the player movement and grade each team based on all their transactions from last week.
NLEX Road Warriors
Receive: Alex Mallari, Kenneth Ighalo, JR Quinahan, Larry Fonacier, Second Round Picks (2017, 2019, 2020)
Give: Glenn Khobuntin, Eric Camson, Sean Anthony, Garvo Laneta, Bradwyn Guinto
The Road Warriors needed the most help out of all the teams that made moves last week. NLEX is at the bottom of the standings and they rank near the bottom when it comes to both offensive and defensive metrics. With this trade, NLEX instantly boosts their ability to score and make stops.
Mallari, Fonacier and Quinahan bolster an anemic offense where it was only import Wayne Chism scoring in double digits. Mallari gained confidence as he emerged as a leading scorer on Mahindra. Fonacier and Quinahan are great off the ball options who can spread the floor with their range. Defensively, Mallari and Fonacier are long, athletic and intelligent wing defenders, while Quinahan is a rock in the middle.
To get these players, NLEX had to sacrifice some youth, giving up promising guys like Garvo Lanete and Bradwyn Guinto.
Receive: Glenn Khobuntin, Eric Camson
Give: Alex Mallari, Kenneth Ighalo, Second Round Pick (2020)
This is another one of those head-scratchers from Mahindra. Last season, they gave away Karl Dehesa as he was breaking out of his shell and turning into a productive player for the team. This year, they did the same by giving up Mallari. Mallari was the Enforcers’ best local player. He was an inside-outside threat that showed flashes of brilliance this conference.
In return, Mahindra gets two project forwards in Khobuntin and Camson. Both these guys play hard and will give the team good energy. But they can’t create their own offense like Mallari. Khobuntin and Camson will need the help of LA Revilla and Philip Paniamogan to get their points.
Receive: Anthony Semerad, First Found Pick (2017)
Give: Larry Fonacier
The biggest loser in all of this was Fonacier. He was one of those guys everyone pegged would be ending his career in TNT. Instead he leaves a perennial playoff team and moves to a young rebuilding side. But Fonacier is a consummate professional and he will definitely do everything he can to help NLEX.
As for TNT, they’re clearly moving towards towards a younger direction. They got RR Garcia via a trade and loaded up on key contributors via the draft. Slowly but surely, they’ve reloaded their team without sacrificing the ability to win now. Semerad is a sturdy forward that replicates what Fonacier brings, through his outside shooting.
The bigger loot in the trade was the first round pick. The Ka-Tropa got the draft pick they traded away to the Batang Pier back. With this pick, TNT can add yet another piece to the core of the future
Receive: Garvo Lanete
Give: Jonathan Grey, Second Round Pick (2017)
Between Baser Amer’s emergence, solid play from Anjo Caram and Chris Newsome, and the fact that Ed Daquioag is untradeable, it was really Grey that was the odd man out. Grey needs the ball in his hands to be an efficient player. Unfortunately, Meralco is stocked with talented playmakers. That’s why he was shipped out.
Lanete on the other hand is a shooter that plays off the ball. He’s not the deadeye sniper that he was in the amateurs, but he’s improving his accuracy. He slots in at the shooting guard position next to players like Amer and Newsome where he can spread the floor for all their slashers. He’s exactly the player that the Bolts need, especially when things get tighter in the playoffs.
GlobalPort Batang Pier
Receives: Sean Anthony, Bradwyn Guinto, Jonathan Grey
Gives: JR Quinahan, Anthony Semerad, First Round Pick (2017), Second Round Pick (2019)
In theory, this is a great trade for the Batang Pier. They get three guys that give them depth and youth at different positions.
Anthony is only a year removed from his breakout year. He’s one of those hard-nosed players that does all the little things that help a team win. He doesn’t need the ball to be an efficient player. Guinto is a banger. He doesn’t have the range of Quinahan, but he’s just as tough and physical. He’s more comfortable in the paint, giving Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle a consistent target inside. Grey is an offensive threat that can create for the team off the bench.
These players can fit into GlobalPorts rotation easily. But there are still hurdles to the success of this trade. Anthony has been hobbled by injuries all year, while Grey and Guinto are still green and adjusting to the PBA. If they can put it all together, then the Batang Pier have a solid team they can unleash on the PBA.