Practically sisters... but not

What? They’re not related???

They are practically sisters... but they are not!?!

Sister teams... that is.

Talk N Text, Air21, and Meralco managed to make two separate deals involving five players and two draft picks!

Should SMC franchises be alarmed?

Air21 is on a build up. Before the season finished, they managed to send Doug Kramer to Rain or Shine for Marcy Arellano. Before the last season ended, Air21 traded Richard Yee to Barako Bull for one of Yeng Guiao’s favourite enforcers… Leo Najorda. With B-MEG opting to use their Air21 draft pick next season, the Express is facing a problem any PBA team would want to have – four draft picks in the first round! Finally with the first, second, third, and sixth pick of the draft the debacle that was Japeth Aguilar could finally rest.

Meralco on the other hand is re-tuning their lineup. With Ryan Gregorio hoping to claim a shooting guard with the calibre of James Yap, they are willing to do away with rookies to establish this point. Gregorio emphasizes on defense but he really wants to have a scoring superstar. Three seasons ago, Yap, Kerby Raymundo, and Peter June Simon were the only locals scoring in double figures. Two seasons ago, Simon was stricken off the list following an injury. Last season, Yap and Raymundo still averaged in double figures but Raymundo barely played for the squad in the Fiesta Cup. From the old Sta. Lucia core, Bitoy Omolon is the only potential scorer that can nail double-figure outputs (if consistent).

Talk N Text has been ping-ponging their players with the Lina Franchise (Air21, Burger King) for some time now and while their current core is solid, these Texters can’t seem to score wins. With the acquisition of Japeth, they’ll lose a slew of first round picks. The Kelly Williams loan to Smart-Gilas should also be an issue that they need to address.

Last weekend the Talk N Text Tropang Texters, Air21 Express, and Meralco figured in two separate deals. One deal sent burly bruiser Beau Belga from Air21 to Meralco. Belga is the lovechild of Noli Locsin and Jerry Codinera’s skills and he is solves the team’s center spot. In return, Meralco sent Ali Peek back to TNT. Even at 35, Peek is still a dominant inside operator and a defensive juggernaut. The Man Mountain would be a key player in the Texters’ frontline depth. Finally the Texters will give JR Quinahan back to the Express. After a disappointing rookie season at Alaska, Baby Shaq blossomed in the Lina franchise but his growth got sidetracked after not getting the minutes at TNT.

The other deal sent Macmac Cardona from TNT to Meralco. Rumors circulated during the latter part of the Fiesta Cup that Cardona and Chot Reyes weren’t seeing eye to eye which was one of the reasons of the move. Cardona is a proven scorer but an underrated rebounder for his position which is his edge against James Yap. The Texters will acquire Air21’s fourth overall pick selection. TNT has Jimmy Alapag, Ryan Reyes, Jason Castro, Mark Yee, and Jared Dillinger at the PG/SG/SF positions so they can afford to select a big man. If they won’t go for a big then they can still go with picking Josh Vanlandingham, Sean Anthony, or Jimbo Aquino. If they want a big man, it’s likely Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Nonoy Baclao, and Elmer Espiritu would land on their lap. While they have the first three picks, Air21 would probably try to also shore up their backcourt. Yes, along with Josh Urbiztondo, Air21 also claimed Meralco’s third overall selection. Urbiztondo would be an essential find for the Express to back Wynne Arboleda. But they could use this pick to get a shooter or a slasher. Aquino and John Wilson are credible picks at this point.

Obviously TNT lost in these dealings. Meralco won because they got two starters to spearhead their campaign but Air21 could get giddy with all the talent they can scour in the draft.

But the thing is the PBA should start checking out these three squads. Why is Air21 not part of the MVP sister team-ship is beyond me. Since the start of the 2000’s Air21 and TNT are basically trading players Renren Ritualo, Ranidel de Ocampo, Egay Billones, Yancy de Ocampo, Patrick Fran, Jec Chia, Yee, Quinahan, Vergel Meneses, and Bong Alvarez are among the players that has played for both squads while Jay Washington, Cardona, and Yousif Aljamal was drafted by Air21 but was traded to TNT instead. Sure, call the SMC talent hoarders but there hasn’t been a Derby Ace / Ginebra / SMB trade that didn’t have Barako Bull, Alaska, or Coca-Cola as the other player (Air21 was also instrumental in some of the SMC deals).

Maybe when the trades get rampant they could at least restrict their trades with each other.

It wouldn’t hurt if the SMC squads would join in as third parties... for once.

But if you think about it, SMC is still getting its way against the other squads. Billy Mamaril returned to Ginebra when Air21 accepted a trade that will give them Ginebra’s future first round pick.

Come to think of it, these trades are only destroying the player’s development.

What has happened to the PBA’s policy regarding fair trades?

Maybe it’s time that the Players’ Union take action.

Game over.


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