GLOBAL Port team owner Mikee Romero has quashed speculations of more trades for the pro league's newest franchise with two weeks left before the 38th PBA season comes off the wraps.
The dashing sportsman-businessman says he’s more than pleased with the roster the Batang Pier have right now, a team which he pointed out is capable of springing surprises right on its maiden season.
And who knows, perhaps even win a championship.
“This is the team already,” said Romero in Tuesday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate. “May mga gumagawa ng rumors, but we will live and die with this team. I told the players in practice that those faces beside you, 'yan na ang magiging teammates ninyo.”
The team owner cleared the air as rumors continue to swirl around the franchise about another possible trade as the September 30 opening of the league draws near.
As expected, Romero is pinning his hopes on the explosive combo of two-time MVP Willie Miller and Gary David to carry most of the scoring brunt for Global Port, which purchased the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. franchise lock, stock, and barrel.
Where the two high-scoring guards go, so does the rookie franchise.
“It depends on where these two will bring us,” said Romero. “Of course, Rabeh (Al Hussaini) is our third option, but its Gary and Willie who will be our main weapons. I expect another MVP run for Gary David this season, and for Willie to give this rookie team his brand of leadership.”
Aside from Miller, David, Rey Guevarra, and Al-Hussaini, other members of the team are Jondan Salvador, Romel Adducul, Will Antonio, Josh Vanlandingham, Rudy Linganay, Marvin Cruz, Mark Yee, Angel Raymundo, and rookies Vic Manuel, Jason Deutchman, and Aj Mandani.
Romero said the Miller-David combination reminded him of the La Salle-Ateneo tandem of Mac Cardona and LA Tenorio when he first formed the Harbour Centre team in the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
Cardona and Tenorio gave the Batang Pier the first of what turned out to be a record seven straight PBL championships.
Romero is not exactly guaranteeing an outright title in Global Port’s maiden season, but is keeping his fingers crossed that hopefully a “Cinderella team will finally come out of the PBA.”
“We haven’t played our first game inside the court, but I tell you, these players will fight like lions, like tigers. Magugustuhan ng tao kung paano kami maglaro,” vowed Romero, who’s also the president of the Philippine National Shooting Association.
Miller was with his new boss in the same forum along with teammates Al-Hussaini and Guevarra, coach Glen Capacio, assistant Ricky Dandan, team manager BJ Manalo and basketball operations manager Eric Arejola.
More than the talent, it’s the hunger factor that will make the difference in the campaign of Global Port, Romero said.
“Ang maganda sa amin `yung boss (Mikee) namin gutom. And siyempre, we have a championship-caliber coach na gutom din,” said Miller, acquired in a multi-team trade that saw the Batang Pier give up sophomore guard JV Casio.
“Lahat kami dito sa team gutom,” Guevarra added.
The Batang Pier will see action right in the opener of the Philippine Cup when they battle crowd darling Barangay Ginebra in the lone game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We’re definitely looking forward to that. Actually, hindi lang naman Ginebra ang pinag-hahandaan namin kundi lahat ng teams,” said Capacio.
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