AIR21 board representative Lito Alvarez has hinted at a busy offseason of wheeling and dealing as the Express looks to come up with a more respectable showing in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“Marami pang mangyayari niyan in the days to come, lalo na kapag natapos na ang conference,” Alvarez, one of the most active players in the trading market in recent years, told Spin.ph.
Air21 began its roster retooling three weeks ago by trading away leading scorer Nino Canaleta to Talk ‘N Text in exchange for Sean Anthony, rookie guard Eliud Poligrates, and the Tropang Texters’ future first-round pick.
Fans can expect more moves between now and the start of the mid-season conference on March 7, Alvarez said, as the Express look to improve a team that missed out on the Philippine Cup playoffs.
The soft-spoken Air21 official said at the top of the team’s priority list is the acquisition of a solid import, who could lead the Express to a more respectable showing in the mid-season tournament.
For now, though, Alvarez said the Express are still in the process of finalizing their import selection as they trim the short list prepared by coach Franz Pumaren.
“Wala pang import pero may mga names na binigay si coach Franz. Pero tinitingnan pa namin yung credentials. Kapag firm up na yung plans by mid-February, nandito na yun dapat,” added the Air21 team executive.
Alvarez said Michael Dunigan, who played for the team in last season’s Commissioner’s Cup, is part of the short list of choices, though he’s currently playing in the Korean league.
“May ibang commitments yata overseas eh, pero option siya (Dunigan). Candidate din siya,” he said.
The 6-foot-10 Dunigan averaged 23.8 points, 15.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.4 blocks in more than 42 minutes of play last season, helping the Express reach the quarterfinals as the eighth-seeded team.
Air21 is one of two teams allowed to tap a 6-foot-11 import after finishing dead last in the Philippine Cup following a 3-11 (win-loss) record.
The other team is Meralco, which placed ninth overall after losing to Alaska in the knockout game for the eighth and final playoff spot.