Alaska gives up Reynel Hugnatan

Reynel is expected to be Ryan Gregorio's goldmine off the bench. 

Reynel Hugnatan, a former MBA MVP, is set to join his third team after the Alaska Aces has traded him to the Meralco Bolts for Hans Thiele and Paolo Bugia.

Hugnatan was Alaska’s best bet off the bench last season, averaging at least 11 points and 7 rebounds for the Aces. Last season, Alaska placed second in last season’s Philippine Cup and was champion of the last season’s Fiesta Conference. However, he was a shell of his former self in the recently-concluded Philippine Cup. His averages dipped from double figures to 5ppg. His scoring drought could be one of the reasons why Alaska had an atrocious Philippine Cup campaign.

Thiele on the other hand, has had a successful rookie campaign. For a person that was left undrafted in the 2010 PBA Draft, he is netting 7.7ppg, 6.9rpg, and 0.9apg in 25.1mpg. Those stats dropped after he was traded from Barako Bull to Meralco for former Las Pinas College standout Dennis Daa.

Bugia is an Atenean journeyman who averaged 2.5ppg and 1.4rpg and was part of the big three-team trade that sent superstars Sol Mercado to the Bolts, Jay-R Reyes to the Air21 Express, and Ronjay Buenafe to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

For Hugnatan, this will be his third team after getting selected ninth overall in the 2003 PBA Draft by the Coca-Cola Tigers. Thiele, an undrafted rookie, will suit up for already his third team while Bugia, is set to join his sixth team after Red Bull, Purefoods, Ginebra, Rain or Shine, and Meralco (although he wasn’t able to suit up for the squad).

MY TAKE: Great trade for Alaska. Hugnatan was barely productive last conference and Alaska needs a solid player off the bench. The Philippine Cup was also the first season where we saw the OLD Reynel Hugnatan and not the Reynel of old (meaning his Negros Slashers days). Reynel is an able body that can slide from both forward and center spots but he’ll have a tough time getting playing time with Asi Taulava, Gabby Espinas, Mark Isip, and Nelbert Omolon “hogging” the spotlight. Still though, Hugnatan has the ability to adapt well especially when he’s in the hot seat. He can score, defend, and he can take out Isip and Omolon from the main mix.

As for Thiele, I like his chances in Alaska. He is set to join former UE teammates Mark Borboran, Elmer Espiritu, and Bonbon Custodio. He is also an able body who likes to do the hustle and the dirty work and plays a lot like Tony dela Cruz. Thiele has been passed around by teams because he is a project and yet he can readily contribute to a team’s cause. Alaska has had problems with their bench and they’ll love Thiele’s presence especially if he contributes on offense.

As for Bugia, I still believe that he can still be usable. The problem with Bugia is that he scrappy but is perceived to be a liability on offense. Sure, he likes to play unselfish... but oftentimes nice guys with average skills finish last. I pitied him when he was moved to Meralco but I somewhat like his chances as an Alaska Ace. One thing he needs to be is to be aggressive because Tim Cone likes his players packed with “controlled intensity”. Well at least he’ll have another Atenean in the lineup as he joins LA Tenorio for the first time in his PBA career (which probably completes his “I need to play at least with all of my Atenean teammates in the PBA” shtick).

I’d rather play Bugia than play the PBA version of Elmer Espiritu and all versions of Mike Burtscher.

Hopefully they will do well in the second conference where imports will probably destroy their chances of having steady playing time.

Game over.


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