Barako insists trading away draft picks part of `team strategy'
Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos together with alternate PBA team governor Eric Noora. Snow Badua

BARAKO Bull stood firm its off-season wheeling and dealing will have an immediate impact in its campaign in the coming 39th season of the PBA and will reap more benefits than harm.

Finally breaking the team’s silence, manager Raffy Casyao said the decision of the franchise to trade away its first round pick in the last Rookie Draft is part of the team’s overall strategy.

“We needed to get quality players --- tried and tested ones, who will give the team instant impact,” said the amiable team official after the Energy Cola were critically denounced for its move to deal the 4th to 6th picks in the last draft.

“Nothing against the rookies coming in, pero we need players na experienced na to run our system.”

“The draft was two weeks before the start of the All Filipino, ang bilis ng bawat conference. Wala na kaming time to wait for young players to mature,” added Casyao.

The traded picks secured for Barako Bull players such as Rico Maierhofer, Willy Wilson, Mark Isip, Magi Sison, and Denok Miranda.

But Casyao said it’s the only thing the team can do to rebuild, as ‘the picks are the only baits they have to get the players they need.’

“Among the present crop of players, a lot of teams would not be attracted to take our players,” said Casyao. “So `yung aming mga draft picks lang (talaga).”

Casyao added trading away players is always a gamble.

“It’s hard to say na tama itong decision namin. It remains to be seen. The same goes if Slaughter will perform as the no. 1 draft pick.”

Casyao said the move readily benefited the team as he took pride in Barako Bull’s 93-90 win over Alaska in their tune-up game Friday.

“I know it’s just a tune-up. Pero who would think na tatalunin namin ang isang systematic and championship team like Alaska,” said Casyao of the win made possible by the heroics of Wilson, Isip, and Miller.

Wilson grabbed 14 rebounds, while Miller finished with 17 points and scored the game winning three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining.

Alaska had the chance to tie the game, but Isip stole the ball from JV Casio to seal the win for the franchise owned by George Chua.

“It’s too early to tell, pero at least may positive sign na medyo sabihin natin na tama nagging desisyon namin so far,” said Casyao.

Even Alaska coach Luigi Trillo believes on the potential of Barako Bull owing to its performance against the Aces.

“They (Barako Bull) played well. You have to give it to Barako. They (players) are fighting for jobs over there. They played great defense. Willie (Miller) hit the big shot,” said Trillo.

“A lot of guys there are really working hard. Playing their hearts out, trying to make the line-up. There are a lot of veterans there. It’s admirable what they did in this game.”

Meanwhile, Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos vowed to come up with a formidable line-up in the Philippine Cup as he continues to trim down the team’s pool of players.

“Makakabuo tayo ng malakas na team out of the players we have. I have no doubts about it,” said Ramos, who expressed satisfaction as the team is looking to sign up rookie picks Jeric Fortuna, Carlo Lastimosa and Darwin Cordero.

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