Van Opstal-Pessumal trade left fans with more questions than answers

Yesterday, the PBA announced that the San Miguel Beermen have traded fourth-string center Arnold Van Opstal to Globalport for wing man Von Pessumal.

It quickly caused a stir as at least Pessumal is a current member of the Gilas program as a cadet, and people know cadets cannot be traded after two years, at least in the press conferences held in 2016 when Gilas announced a reboot to the original blueprint.

Van Opstal has been dropped from the Gilas pool due to failure to attend practice sessions, so it’s okay to deal him. The problem was that Pessumal, who is part of both the 2017 Jones Cup and Southeast Asian Games rosters, clearly is currently a part of Gilas.

Apparently, according to reporters, the PBA allows trading the cadets if it is for each other. It would have sounded ridiculous if Pessumal was “dropped” from the pool just for the trade to be executed and then the Beermen sends him back to the Gilas squad as their cadet representative.

The trade itself is a good deal for both teams. The seldom-used Van Opstal will add youth to the Batang Pier frontcourt whose tallest bigs are 42-year-old Mick Pennisi and 37-year-old Billy Mamaril. Van Opstal adds ceiling and he will be, along with Bradwyn Guinto, seeing more minutes for Globalport.

Pessumal gives San Miguel another high-volume three-point shooter especially after RR Garcia and Chris Lutz have departed. Pessumal will likely back up Marcio Lassiter. Eventually, when Ronald Tubid decides to hang it up, Pessumal will also get more touches. Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, meanwhile, can focus on playmaking and defense.

But now going back to the main issue here. The PBA allowing this to happen only leads to more questions rather than answers.

One could only go back to the 2016 PBA Draft where, of course, the league held a special round where 12 Gilas cadets named earlier would be drafted into each of the 12 teams. The league and its teams met beforehand, and during draft day, the real order of the Gilas draft was not bared. Instead they were announced alphabetically.

So how were Gilas cadets exactly assigned to their respective teams? What was the process? People still don’t know up to this day. The purpose of the Gilas draft is to distribute the cadets evenly to the teams, which is alright, but people still want to know about the process that transpired.

And now that it has been announced Gilas cadets can apparently be traded to a fellow cadet, then one could only ask what were the teams’ reasoning behind selecting their original cadets. Did the league just assign cadets to teams? Did the teams have power in choosing which cadet to land days before the draft? And why is Mac Belo untradable?

And yes, with the PBA currently on a break, what a time for this to happen too. That gives fans something to talk about with still a week left before the Governors’ Cup; and they, like us, could only hope for answers.

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