BARAKO Bull is feeling vindicated.
Team governor Manny Alvarez said on Sunday the Energy's run of successes in the PBA Governors Cup has justified the trades which deemed 'unfair' by fans.
Quashing accusations that the Energy are a 'farm team' for San Miguel Corp-owned ballcubs, Alvarez said Barako enters trades with an eye on improving its lineup and not for anything else.
“Look at our team now. We’re doing well because we were able to get the crucial pieces we want in our team,” said the amiable Barako executive after the team's 112-103 win over Rain or Shine on Sunday night.
“Parati namang may nagsasabi ng ganyan. They always associate us with San Miguel. Pero there’s no truth to that. Wala namang basis 'yun,” Alvarez told Spin.ph.
“Kung hindi nga lang sinuwerte si Ronald Tubid nung endgame, it could have gone either way.” he added, recalling Barako’s heartbreaking 113-116 loss to the Beermen last Wednesday.
“We negotiate with other teams. All teams naman nag te-trade kami with expectations na mag-iimprove ang team namin,” said Alvarez, a longtime business adviser of Barako co-owner Bert Lina.
Barako's team of castoffs, led by JC Intal and Joseph Yeo, is also seizing the opportunity to prove themselves with the unlikely league leaders.
Intal, who had previously played for Ginebra and the Star Hotshots, said playing for a perennial cellar dweller team like Barako gives them added motivation to perform better.
“Lahat naman ng naglalaro sa Barako, there’s something to prove. Hindi lang sa PBA fans kundi pati sa sarili nila,” said Intal. “Atleast, dito nabibigyan kami ng opportunity to play and show our game.
“Added motivation kasi sa amin (yung galing kami sa malalaks na team before) kasi it helps na ganun ang situation lalo yung mga bagong trade lang (dito),” he added.
Yeo, who was traded to Barako by Ginebra a few days before the start of the current conference, claimed they are only enjoying every game and not feeling any pressure unlike when playing for high-profile teams.
“Wala, laro lang kami. Enjoy lang kami dito. Kung manalo, okay. Makakuha lang kami ng mas maraming panalo, okay kami. Ngayon nga, goal lang namin Top 8, di muna kami tumitingin sa Top 4,” said Yeo.
“Motivation rin kasi sa amin 'yung lumaro dito na galing kami sa malalaking team. Unfortunately kasi dun (big teams) maraming magagaling na players, atleast dito nakakapagpakita kami,” he added.
View interview with Barako's castoffs and team governor Manny Alvarez:
Young slotman Justin Chua, who was recently traded by San Miguel to Barako, bared how coach Koy Banal has been inspiring them to perform better and at the same time stay on the same page.
“Gina-grab lang namin yun opportunity na dito nagagamit kami, nakakatulong kami sa team,” said the former Ateneo back-up center. “Sana tuloy-tuloy lang na nakakatulong ako sa team pag napapasok ako.”
After being a fourth-string frontliner at SMB, Chua has been making the most of his chances at Barako by averaging 9.17 quality minutes and contributing 3.83 points and 1.5 rebounds a game.
“Sa ngayon wala na. If you’re winning, you try to keep your lineup intact. But if there’s a good offer from other teams, why not?” he said.
“Ganun naman eh. If you think overall the team will improve by going through certain trades, why not grab it,” he said.