Global Port Batang Pier just pulled a Beau Belga-sized rabbit out of a hat. Last conference’s dust eaters have instantly transformed itself into a contender — emphasis on “on paper” — by acquiring arguably a top-5 dynamic talent in Sol Mercado and a solid big man in Kelly Nabong from the Meralco Bolts. The Mikee Romero-owned team also received bench fillers in Jaypee Belencion and Yousif Aljamal from the Bolts.
In return, Meralco received a tough and hardworking rookie in Vic Manuel, a sniper in Josh Vanlandingham, and Aljur Abrenica…. Oooops my mistake, I meant Rey Guevarra.
In a separate deal, Global Port sent out volatile big man Rabeh Al-Hussaini in a straight up one-for-one deal to get the ever flickery Japeth Aguilar.
THE GLOBAL PORT HEIST
Man, this reminds me of the TNT heist when the Texters got Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes for Mac Cardona. Just by looking at their depth chart right now, you can actually say that the Batang Pier can go toe-to-toe with the perennial powerhouses in the PBA. They now have arguably the most explosive backcourt rotation in the league. The entry of Mercado eases the load on the aging legs of superstars Willie Miller and Gary David. Now, those two “I’m gonna put the ball in the hole, no matter what!” type of players can feed off of Sol’s unstoppable forays to the rim. Everything should be easier for them from here, it seems. Last year’s cellar dwellers also can now be patient with the growth of spitfire guard A.J. Mandani.
More than getting Japeth Aguilar, I think the next best asset that they acquired is Kelly Nabong. This dude was playing solid for the Bolts last conference and was a good enough presence in the paint that Meralco at one time fooled us SLAM PH guys by tagging them as the hottest team in the league.
Of course there is Japeth Aguilar. Coach Junel Baculi gets his shot at setting this beanpole straight. He is getting one of the most hyped PBA talents in the last decade, a very good weak side defender but still goes for every shot block he can, and one of the worst post defenders in the league. Okay, if Sean Anthony once looked like the ’99-’01 Danny Ildefonso against him at the post, then he has got to be the worst post defending big man in the league.
Global Port gets all those just by parting ways with only one intriguing talent they really liked in Tito Vic Manuel and sending out a what should be valuable first-rounder in 2015.
It really feels like the Bolts “settled” with this trade. I mean if you’re giving away a 20-6-6 monster in Sol Mercado, one of the most dynamic ballers in the league, and a very serviceable big man in Kelly Nabong, you have to come up with either a deal that will keep your boat afloat for the meantime or a couple of pieces promising enough to make you drool. I feel that they could’ve been more patient. A deal that would get them a blue-chip rookie (which they got in Manuel), a promising pick (which they also got), and another borderline all-star would’ve been nice.
I think this trade pulls them back into being the-two-games-away-from-the-playoffs type of team. That’s at least for now.
RABEH CAN BENEFIT FROM THE BLACK MAGIC AGAIN
Among all the players involved in the swapalooza, I think Rabeh Al-Hussaini is the biggest winner. Not only he gets another chance to play for the only coach on Planet Earth to have harnessed his talents and managed his volatility, he gets a crash course on Being A PBA Pro 101 from all the solid pros stacked in the Tropa.
I am damn excited for the former King Eagle.
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