2011 PBA DRAFT: AIR21 EXPRESS – WHAT THEY NEED

Dynamite Danny experienced rebirth playing for the Air21 Express. 


(This is the first of ten articles called What They Need. Last year, I made a version where we called out a PBA team’s roster and pick out the slots they need to shore up. Most of these deficiencies are addressed via the draft.)

When the first conference started, in their disposal were Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Nonoy Baclao, Ronjay Buenafe, Wesley Gonzales, JR Quinahan, Ronnie Matias, Leo Najorda, Carlo Sharma, Josh Urbiztondo, Erick Rodriguez, Rey Guevarra, Marcy Arellano, and Wynne Arboleda.

When they ended the conference, they had Arboleda, Najorda, Sharma, Arellano (injured list), Dondon Hontiveros, Danny Seigle, Dorian Pena, Paul Artadi, Willie Miller, Jondan Salvador, Reed Juntilla, Lou Gatumbato, Elmer Espiritu, Leo Avenido, and Patrick Cabahug.

At one point of the season, the Express had Jay-R Reyes and Nino Canaleta.

Hell, they started the conference with Yeng Guiao but finished their season with Bong Ramos.

Even I can’t figure out why the heck would Lito Alvarez need another franchise to act as conduit!  


Hontiveros was amongst the players who led the charge for the Express. 


TOP FIVE EXPRESS OF THE 2010-11 SEASON:

1 DANNY SEIGLE
PHILCUP: (AS SMB) 9.2PPG, 3.7RPG, 0.9APG
COMCUP: 14.7PPG, 8.2RPG, 1.8APG
GOVCUP: 16.5PPG, 7.3RPG, 1.3BPG

2 DONDON HONTIVEROS
PHILCUP: (AS SMB) 14.0PPG, 3.6RPG, 2.1APG
COMCUP: 15.0PPG, 4.8RPG, 2.1APG
GOVCUP: 9.0PPG, 3.9RPG, 1.8APG

3 WYNNE ARBOLEDA
PHILCUP: 5.8PPG, 4.0RPG, 3.4APG
COMCUP: 6.4PPG, 2.9RPG, 2.1APG
GOVCUP: 6.3PPG, 2.1RPG, 1.8APG

4 CARLO SHARMA
PHILCUP: 5.3PPG, 4.1RPG, 0.4APG
COMCUP: 2.9PPG, 1.9RPG, 0.2BPG
GOVCUP: 10.9PPG, 6.9RPG, 0.3BPG

5 LEO NAJORDA
PHILCUP: 5.6PPG, 3.5RPG, 1.8APG
COMCUP: 4.2PPG, 2.2RPG, 0.5APG 
GOVCUP: 5.7PPG, 2.2RPG, 0.5SPG


WHAT THEY NEED:

CENTERS: Just like Powerade, this is a position they need to address. Sure, they have the size but they basically struck a hammer to their knees when they traded Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao. While I can’t fault them for this since they acquired a rejuvenated Seigle and Hontiveros, it was certain that they destroyed what could have been the 2010’s version of Patrimonio and Codinera.

FORWARDS: I can see the squad loving their shooters and slashers but their power forward spot needs furnishing. There are a lot of marquee centers getting benched and it’s hard to address this in the draft. Oh wait... they could... but if they have a top 5 pick, I wouldn’t waste it on a power forward.

GUARDS: Not even the acquisition of Willie Miller is enough for the Express to not find a guard. Hontiveros, Seigle, and Miller are shooters and slashers but with the exodus of Urbiztondo, Wynne Arboleda is alone at the PG spot. Now is the time for the Express to find a player that can slowly relieve The Snatcher of his starting spot.


The team is in need of ceiling. 


WHO SHOULD THEY PICK? 

If they could get their hands on Junmar Fajardo, they must do so without hesitation. Fajardo has a tendency to become a bust but he is credible enough to give the Express the size they currently lack. However, I suggest for the Express to pick Chris Tiu, Paul Lee, or JV Casio. These combo guards will add new dimension to Air21 without dismantling their identity. Since Allan Gregorio is an official of Smart-Gilas, smart money will definitely have his squad checking out his former wards. Marcio Lassiter is also a good pick but I don’t know how he’ll get the minutes playing behind the team’s top slashers. Also, they can use their other late first round or second round selections to claim other talents like Allein Maliksi, Vic Manuel, Dylan Ababou, Reil Cervantes, and Calvin Abueva.

Air21 has been a league-leader in terms of draft picks for years now. They have the ability to claim big time stars like Rabeh, Macmac Cardona, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jay Washington, and others.

Unfortunately for Air21, they release their picks before they could ever amount to something.

Just like in the past years, I ask the heavens to make Air21 stop on their “conduit-ness”.

Game over.

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