It all happened so quickly, they didn’t even bother to wait for the end of the on-going Commissioner’s Cup.
Even though there were only two teams left in action, the Philippines is a country where basketball really never stops. Over two straight days (May 10-11), the PBA approved of five trades involving half of the league and a total of 16 players.
With all that went down and all the players that moved around, it might take a while to digest who went where and who the casualties are.
That is, unless you follow along as I guide you through all of these moves.
What the hell just happened?
Well, five trades happened, so that’s going to be confusing if we go trade by trade. To simplify things, let’s just summarize which team got which player when the dust settled.
With that out of the way, let’s grade how each of the team did in this tradepalooza.
Let’s begin with the team that made the smallest move:
Who they got: Roi Sumang
Who they lost: Keith Agovida
“Hey, they got Roi Sumang. That’s a pretty recognizable name. We all know Blackwater could need more of those guys.”
“At least they didn’t trade their first round draft pick…yet.”
Blackwater seemed really high on Agovida at the start of the season after their tour in Malaysia, enough that he averaged 10.2 minutes in nine Philippine Cup games. Agovida wasn’t completely horrible, but he didn’t really contribute much to the team on the court to solidify his status as a piece of the future for the team. With fellow rookie, Art Dela Cruz, and veteran, Reil Cervantes, holding down the forward spots, Agovida was easily a moveable piece.
Sumang’s pro career didn’t start as well as he might have wanted it to. Once projected as a first round pick by some pundits, Sumang slid all the way down to the third round into the laps of GlobalPort. Some felt like it was a steal for the Batang Pier, up to a level that star Terrence Romeo had to be interviewed on his new rookie teammate. Some thought Sumang might be able to absorb some of the scoring load when the Pringle/Romeo duo had to take a breather.
It didn’t really work out that way. Sumang barely got to play and logged more than five points in only one game. Since his UAAP days, he was always a volume scorer (three seasons of 26.0+ USG% and 15.0+ PPG), but he wasn’t going to get his usual volume of shots in GlobalPort.
This move to Blackwater puts him in a better situation. While Carlo Lastimosa (33.6 USG% this season) is still going to be the main finisher, Blackwater might like a chance to at least try out a second go-to option other than Reil Cervantes. Cervantes’ efficiency has only gone up since his usage rate has gone down and that is something Blackwater might be looking to experiment with.
Blackwater got a cool project to work with at the expense of a player they were probably not going to be using much anyways. I’d say that’s an okay deal.
If Sumang doesn’t pan out, Blackwater didn’t really lose much to get him.
It’s not like they traded a potential first or second overall pick. But if he does pan out to be a legit scorer, forming a one-two punch with Lastimosa, we’d have one less trade to mock Blackwater about.
Humblebola Trade Grade: B
Humblebola Trade GIF:
Moving on, let’s check out the team that made the most moves. You’re not going to believe who it is though:
Who they got: Jonathan Uyloan, Mark Cruz, Norbert Torres, Mark Borboran, Simon Ensico
Who they lost: Rodney Brondial, RR Garcia, Mac Baracael, Emman Monfort, second-round pick
“If you told me that David Kahn was secretly running the Phoenix Fuelmasters, I would not be surprised at all.”
“Look! Phoenix traded away two of their five point guards! Talk about improv-oh, they got three more in return.”
“According to PER, Phoenix just traded their first, third, and fifth best players on the team away. What’s new?”
A lot happened to Phoenix in the offseason…but that aLeah’s been the norm for this team. Only two conferences after trading for the five ex-Ginebra players (Urbiztonda, Knuttel, Baracael, Brondial, and Monfort) only two are left.
During his short lived span as a Fuel Master, Brondial was one of the best rebounders in the PBA (18.3 TRB%). As limited as his offense has been, his rebounding (especially on the offensive end) will be something that Phoenix will miss.
Baracael bounced back from a horrid Philippine Cup (4.9 PER) to post some decent numbers (13.9 PER) as the only legit wing back-up for JC Intal that could shoot three’s (34.5%). So of course, Phoenix traded him ASAP.
Emman Monfort pretty much did his stuff consistently, which is being a decent second-string guard. But with what seems to be like a million point guards on the Phoenix roster, they probably didn’t have much trouble trading him away.
Is that all? Did I forget someone?
The Commissioner’s Cup hit the Phoenix Fuel Masters hard. After pouting a surprising 5-6 record in the Philippine Cup, they were brought back down to earth, finishing dead last in the Commissioner’s Cup at 3-8. Still, RR Garcia was their undeniable star. Averaging a career high 17.5 points per game, Ryan Roose has tried to put the team on his shoulders. His 33-point performance to start this conference was certainly one of the few memorable moments for Phoenix.
Of course, Phoenix traded him.
If we look at just what Phoenix traded away, it seems pretty bad. But what about what they got in return?
Three rookies to build around? That doesn’t seem that bad right?
Diminutive rookie guard Mark Cruz played inconsistent minutes for Star…but he’s riding off an 18-point regular season closing game. Maybe that is a sign for something bigger to come?
Rookie big man Norbert Torres played bits and pieces for Star…but he’s rebounding at an okay-ish 13.8 TRB% rate. Maybe he just needs more minutes to shine?
Rookie guard Simon Ensico (who used to hage “FilipinoDRose” as his Twitter handle) might be the most proven player of this haul. He averaged 7.8 points in the Philippine Cup and scored in double-digits twice. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery?
Jonathan Uyloan posted pretty decent numbers for a GlobalPort team that sort of lost control in this past conference. But if Uyloan is the best player you get in a nine-player swap…is that really a good deal?
And Mark Borboran?
I initially liked how it seemed that Phoenix might be building towards the future by trading for three rookies. However, trading away one of your best scorers, your best rebounder, and two solid role players, only to not get a single sure-thing in return is not really convincing. Just look above at the breakdown and you can see that every player the Fuel Masters acquired comes with question marks.
Maybe Cruz, Torres, and Ensico have potential to be better players than they have shown. But when you are trading away players who bring certain things to the table like Garcia and Brondial, question marks and potential aren’t enough to offset the loss.
To make things worse, they threw in a draft pick in a trade where the best player they got was maybe the fourth or fifth best player in the entire trade.
But hey, what’s new?
Humblebola Trade Grade: D (In case Cruz, Torres, or Ensico breaks out)
Humblebola Trade GIF:
Who they got: Paolo Taha, Kieth Agovida
Who they lost: Karl Dehesa
“You should never trade someone whose twitter handle is @hotttKARL”
“Dehesa was your third-leading local scorer in the conference and is still pretty young. What you up to Mahindra?”
“Paolo Taha was actually decent for GlobalPort. Nice pick up.”
It looked bad for Mahindra. Dehesa was turning out to be a legit part of the team heading into the future. Shooting at a 39.2% clip from downtown is pretty good. Double-digit scoring in 8 of 11 games in the conference, three 20-point games in the Philippine Cup, what’s not to like?
So why would Mahindra trade him?
But let’s look at this from another angle. Dehesa caught steam in the 2015 Governor’s Cup, when he led Mahindra with 6.3 three point attempts and made 36.2% of them. He was Mahindra’s best long-range weapon. Fast-forward to the next season and suddenly you have KG Canaleta and Aldrech Ramos joining the picture.
Ramos has been on fire. He shot 57.6% from three-point land on 3.0 attempts in the Philippine Cup and cooled down to only 41.7% off 3.3 attempts in the Commissioner’s Cup. Canaleta was pretty bad in the Philippine Cup (22.9% off 4.4 attempts) but bounced back strong in the Commissioner’s Cup (42.3% on 6.5 attempts). Long story short, Dehesa’s three-point shooting isn’t as valuable as it was before.
On the other side of the trade are two relatively big athletic wings, Paolo Taha and Keith Agovida.
Agovida opened his rookie season with a 15-point debut, but played sparingly since, up to a point where he almost had as many DNP’s as recorded minutes in the Commissioner’s Cup. But Agovida isn’t the main focus of the package Mahindra got.
Say hello to Paolo Taha.
The former 29th over all pick had never averaged double-digit minutes before this Commissioner’s Cup. But when GlobalPort needed someone to step up when Stanley Pringle was hampered by injuries, Taha got more minutes (from 3.9 in PH Cup to 18.7 in Comm. Cup) and averaged a solid 9.0 points per game on a pretty decent 54.6 eFG%.
Maybe Taha’s production was just a product of GlobalPort not being able to use Pringle. They never won in this conference when Taha played over 10 minutes. But Taha got to the rim and found a way to get points, whether by finishing or drawing a foul.
That’s what makes his move to Mahindra slightly enticing. With floor stretchers like Canaleta and Ramos, Mahindra now needed someone who could slice their way inside and finish. Dehesa wasn’t the answer to that, so Mahindra looked for someone who was, went out, and got him.
Hey, I liked Dehesa at Mahindra. He was a crucial part of the team that made them so entertaining in their maiden season last year. It made it feel like he was supposed to be a part of Mahindra forever.
However, because of the reasons above in the breakdown, dangling him as bait in search for a fix to your offense was not such a far-fetched idea.
It’s a classic dilemma of how the brain can comprehend why they traded him, but the heart still doesn’t want to see him go.
Humblebola Trade Grade: B+
Humblebola Trade GIF:
/wipes tears away
Well that was a bit emotional. Let’s move on to something more different!
NLEX Road Warriors
Who they got: Mac Baracael, Emman Monfort, Second Round Draft pick
Who they lost: Simon Ensico, Mark Borboran
“I literally have no idea what NLEX is doing.”
“I’ve always wondering if Mario grows bigger in proportions of the mushroom he eats. Like if he only took a small bite, would he just grow a little bigger? This trade seems like a small-bite-of-a-mushroom trade.”
I feel like NLEX is currently stuck in some kind of mediocre limbo. They aren’t completely bad, but they aren’t completely good in any area as well. They ended both current conferences with a 5-6 record,which is statistically as mediocre as it can get.
Simon Ensico was fun for a short while, but he’s behind Jonas Villanueva, Kevin Alas, and Garvo Lanete in the guard rotation. He was never exactly untouchable.
NLEX is thin at the forward position and Borboran started a majority of the games this season as the team’s forward, but rookie Glenn Khonbuntin had been slowly eating into his playing time. The 10-year age gap between the two makes it pretty clear who would be a better piece to hold onto, moving forward into the future.
Baracael is a nice upgrade over Borboran, if ever so slightly. Same goes with Monfort over Ensico.
Do I feel lIke the moves could make NLEX a better team? Yeah, I can see that.
Do I feel lIke the moves could make NLEX a significantly better team? Not really. Trying to get free of the doom that is mediocrity is going to take a bigger move than this.
Will I stop my annoying habit of asking and answering my questions now? Yes. Yes, I will.
Humblebola Trade Grade: C
Humblebola Trade GIF:
Let’s move to GlobalPort next, because I know a lot of you are just reading for the Star Hotshots grades, so I might as well keep on dragging this out for as long as I can.
Globalport Batang Pier
Who they got: Karl Dehesa, Yousef Taha, Ronald Pascual
Who they lost: Paolo Taha, Keith Jensen, Roi Sumang, Jonathan Uyloan
“What the hell? Ronald Pascual was traded again?”
“If you trade a Taha away and get a Taha back, does the trade actually happen?”
“I wonder if GlobalPort gave up on Roi Sumang too easily.”
“Karl Dehesa will have fun receiving kick out passes from Romeo/Pringle.”
GlobalPort suffered a defensive breakdown (114.0 DefRtg, worst in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup) and finished with an uninspiring 3-8 record to follow up a promising 7-4 Philippine Cup.
Now team management takes a bite into a relatively big chunk of the roster (con pared to the moves other teams have made) and spat it out.
Gone is Keith Jensen, who had been a serviceable defensive small forward that averaged around 20 minutes per game for the past two seasons.
Gone is Paolo Taha, who never really got significant minutes for GlobalPort in his career, up until the Commisioner’s Cup, when he looked like he might have been breaking out.
Gone is Jonathan Uyloan, who shot the lights out from three (16-of-31) in nice Commissioner’s Cup games).
Gone is Roi Sumang, their only rookie leftover from their Commissioner’s Cup roster.
Is this all overreacting from a blip of a struggle in one conference? I’m all for making changes as soon as you recognize the problem…but are these moves really addressing the problem at hand for GlobalPort?
For whatever they lost, GlobalPort at least got back a haul of players that can contribute. Dehesa will be coming in locked and loaded, ready to fire there’s. Yousef Taha will come in ready to add some inside presence for a team that hasn’t had many inside presences to work with.
And then there’s Ronald Pascual. The former Stag star is once again in the middle of a huge tradefest, landing him on his third team in the PBA after only two seasons (4 if you count the offseason where he was traded to Barako Bull before immediately being traded to Star). If not for all of these trades, Pascual’s name might have just faded into obscurity after being a surprise third overall pick in 2014. Personally, I just want to see him find a solid role and get into a groove here at GlobalPort.
Not a bad deal on paper for GlobalPort. But I’m not sure that I can buy into the message that these moves are sending out. I feel like the struggles in the Commissioner’s Cup for GlobalPort cAmerica from a lot of things beyond their control, like Pringle’s injury and their carousel of imports.
I would have wanted to see them give that 7-4 Philippine Cup roster another run at 100% health and see how things go from there. Then again, maybe that’s why I’m here and not running a franchise.
These trades obviously don’t doom them for eternity, and might actually make them better in the long run, but it displays how in a hurry to win team management is. Not really a big fan.
Humblebola Trade Grade: B
Humblebola Trade GIF:
Okay, let’s talk about Star. Are you happy now?
Who they got: Rodney Brondial, RR Garcia, Keith Jensen
Who they lost: Yousef Taha, Ronald Pascual, Norbert Torres, Mark Cruz
“They got WHO for WHO?”
“Someone call 911, there has been a burglary.”
“We all sort of saw something like this coming, didn’t we?”
“The rich just keep getting richer.”
After finishing two straight conferences under .500 after the departure of Coach Tim Cone, I guess that everyone should have seen a huge shake-up involving Star Hotshots comit.
Here’s the thing: any time you can trade four of your five least used players (going by minutes per game in Commissioner’s Cup) for one of the leagues best rebounders (Brondial), a legit wing that can put up points (Garcia), and a solid defender (Jensen), you do it as soon as possible.
Sure, they traded away potential building blocks for the future (Cruz, Torres), but there wasn’t going to be much room for them to get exposure on this roster anyways. Pingris, Yap, and Simon have declined since the Grand Slam days, but they are still a good-enough core to leave that championship window open.
They did a really good job in bolstering their chances here, too. Star Hotshots have been a below-average rebounding team this season, which is something that Brondial should be able to rentity immediately. How awesome would it be for Brondial to learn the tricks of the trade directly from Pingris?
RR Garcia will provide a jolt of youth along with Alex Malliari and Justin Melton. That seems like a good core going forward, while transitioning out of the Yap/Simon Era.
AND ALL IT TOOK FOR STAR WAS FOUR PLAYERS WHOM THEY WEREN’T ACTUALLY USING ANYWAYS.
You know what? Maybe it doesn’t work out. Maybe Garcia won’t be able to blend in after being the main man for so long. Maybe Brondial can’t crack the rotation. Maybe Jensen just isn’t really as good a defender as advertised.
But in the end, Star gave away very little to get pieces that (to be honest) have very little risk.
Humblebola Trade Grade: A
Humblebola Trade GIF:
Are we good? Did we forget to cover anything?
Until next time.
Which might actually not be that far away…