(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.)
Oh hail the grand slam spoilers! Petron looked lost at the middle of the season because of their rebuilding. In an instant, Danny Ildefonso is all that’s left of the early 2000’s core that gave the team a slew of gold. Gone from the squad are Danny Seigle, Dorian Pena, Dondon Hontiveros, and recent addition Paul Artadi while gaining veteran Sunday Salvacion, Barako Bull loans Jojo Duncil, Lordy Tugade (he started the season with San Miguel though), and Paolo Hubalde, and the first, second, and third pick overall in the 2010 PBA Draft in Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Nonoy Baclao, and Rey Guevarra.
And then there’s the retirement of Olsen Racela and the hiring of Ato Agustin as chief mentor.
With Arwind Santos, Jay Washington, Alex Cabagnot, Denok Miranda, Mick Pennisi, and Joseph Yeo, the Petron Blaze Boosters are a totally different squad.
And yet look at them now.
TOP FIVE BLAZE BOOSTERS OF THE 2010-11 SEASON:
1 ARWIND SANTOS
PHILCUP: 15.2PPG – 9.0RPG – 1.0APG – 0.9SPG – 1.0BPG – 27 GAMES
COMCUP: 12.1PPG – 8.4RPG – 1.2APG – 1.0SPG – 1.3BPG – 9 GAMES
GOVCUP: 16.8PPG – 13.7RPG – 1.3APG – 1.3SPG – 1.6BPG – 20 GAMES
2 JAY WASHINGTON
PHILCUP: 16.6PPG – 10.0RPG – 2.4APG – 1.2BPG – 26 GAMES
COMCUP: 14.6PPG – 8.1RPG – 1.9APG – 7 GAMES
GOVCUP: 12.5PPG – 5.0RPG – 1.5APG – 1.0BPG – 2 GAMES
3 ALEX CABAGNOT
PHILCUP: 9.8PPG – 4.0RPG – 5.3APG – 0.8SPG – 26 GAMES
COMCUP: 9.2PPG – 4.2RPG – 5.2APG – 1.4SPG – 9 GAMES
GOVCUP: 9.7PPG – 4.4RPG – 6.8APG – 1.2SPG – 19 GAMES
4 RABEH AL-HUSSAINI
PHILCUP: (AIR21) 17.5PPG – 8.9RPG – 1.0APG – 0.9BPG – 15 GAMES
COMCUP: 12.0PPG – 6.8RPG – 1.7APG – 10 GAMES
GOVCUP: 11.8PPG – 4.3RPG – 0.6APG – 12 GAMES
5 DANNY ILDEFONSO
PHILCUP: 7.0PPG – 4.4RPG – 1.8APG – 23 GAMES
COMCUP: 5.8PPG – 4.3RPG – 2.4APG – 9 GAMES
GOVCUP: 9.3PPG – 5.8RPG – 3.0APG – 16 GAMES
WHAT THEY NEED:
CENTERS: The reason behind the Seigle/Hontiveros trade was to build up their frontline of the future. When they were still San Miguel, this position was a dead scoring spot with Dorian Pena and Mick Pennisi at the helm. Sure they have Nonoy Baclao but the trade brought them rookie phenom Rabeh Al-Hussaini. Besides, they still have Arwind Santos, Jay Washington, and Danny Ildefonso who can still play this spot.
FORWARDS: They have size – and that is one thing that’s working for them. Santos is an all-around player that can play the small forward spot with ease. Sunday Salvacion is also a brilliant SF but maybe they need another real SF in the mix.
GUARDS: In terms of point guards, the team is stacked with pass-first guards like Alex Cabagnot and Denok Miranda. Olsen Racela would still play an important role with the squad IF he was still playing. At the start of the season they had Dondon Hontiveros but now they have Joseph Yeo and Rey Guevarra manning the slasher spot. I think Jojo Duncil is a free agent but I think Paolo Hubalde and Lordy Tugade are Barako Bull (now Shopinas) loans.
WHO SHOULD THEY PICK?
The best player they can get in the draft should be situated in their PG, SG, and SF spots. Picking eighth, the Blaze Boosters can claim Marcio Lassiter, JV Casio, Mac Baracael, and Chris Lutz but I doubt their availability at this point. In terms of SG/SF the best player to pick is Dylan Ababou. The guy is a top scorer back in college and unless Rajko Toroman dismantled that thought from his head, I can sense that he’ll claim scoring chores when he enters the team.
Eric Salamat is a combo guard despite his size and he could be in some ways do damage. To a lesser extent, there is still Reil Cervantes. Some people are saying that a father-son tandem in Ato Agustin and Marc Agustin is in the mix. While the younger Agustin is a SG/SF, I can’t see Petron wasting their eighth pick when there is still a Smart-Gilas player in the draft.