JUST days after matching one of the oldest existing PBA records, undersized big man Jay-R Taganas of D-League side AMA University Titans has attracted the interest of one pro team.
A KIA Motors official said the PBA ballclub is now looking at the wide-bodied former San Beda backup center/forward, who hauled down a D-League record 29 rebounds during AMA’s 70-75 loss to Cagayan Valley in a Foundation Cup game last week.
The feat matched the 39-year-old record for most rebounds in a game by a local player, which was set by 7-Up’s Marcelo Simbulan on June 1, 1975 during the pro league's inaugural season. That record remains untouched to this day despite the arrival of bigger, more athletic PBA players.
KIA team manager Eric Pineda said Taganas’ record-setting performance was quickly noted by his coaching staff, led by top assistant Chito Victolero, especially since the expansion team is in dire need of rebounding help.
“Kailangan talaga namin ng malaki. Eh kung may meron man kaming disadvantage, 'yun (lack of quality big men) ang kailangan namin,” Pineda bared to Spin.ph on Monday.
“Kaya nga pati si Baby Shaq (Taganas' moniker) tinitingnan din namin. Nanonood din ang coaches ko ng D-League.”
KIA has pulled off a number of surprises in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup thanks to its hulking 7-3 import Peter John Ramos’ imposing presence inside the paint.
With Ramos averaging close to 35 points and 21 rebounds per contest, KIA has pulled off victories over reigning Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer, defending champion Purefoods Star, Talk ‘N Text and Alaska.
Still, Pineda said Ramos still needs a lot of help in the middle, which is why the Carnival are looking at Taganas, who is an unrestricted free agent after going undrafted in the 2010 PBA rookie draft and is therefore available to be signed by any team.
But the one question that needs to be answered, Pineda said, is if Taganas - listed at 6-4 in the D-League but more like a 6-2 player - can be as effective in the PBA while battling much bigger players.
“Napag-uusapan siya with the coaching staff. Magaling sa puwestuhan, parang JR Quinahan na naka record ng 29 rebounds, but we’re talking of the D-League,” Pineda said.
"Kasi ang basehan dun eh kung kaya ba niyang gawin 'yun pag natapat na kay (Beau) Belga, Greg (Slaughter) saka (June Mar) Fajardo," he added.