IN yet another puzzling move, Barako Bull traded pint-sized playmaker Eman Monfort to Barangay Gineba in exchange for reserve guard Rob Labagala.
The PBA Commissioner’s Office approved the trade Thursday morning just as the league board was wrapping up its three-day planning session in Sydney, Australia.
“The proposed trade between Ginebra's Rob Labagala and Barako Bull's Eman Monfort has been approved by the PBA,” the Commissioner’s Office said in an official statement.
The trade was another stunning move pulled off by the Barako franchise just a day after relieving Serbian coach Rajko Toroman of his duties as active consultant amidst reports the team is trading its first round picks in the coming Rookie Draft.
[For full story, see Source: Barako to trade No. 4 to Ginebra for Ababou, fifth pick for Petron subs]
Monfort is coming off a stellar performance for Barako in an otherwise injury-riddled rookie season.
The 5-foot-7 guard out of Ateneo de Manila came into his own in the season-ending Governors Cup, submitting averages of 10.75 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists as Barako Bull’s starting playmaker.
No wonder the trade came as a surprise for interim coach Bong Ramos, who appeared clueless upon learning from Spin.ph that Monfort was indeed traded to Ginebra.
“Kita mo, itong nangyari kay Eman 'di ko alam. Siguro nangyari dun sa Sydney, eh nandun sila eh,” Ramos said shortly after the Energy Cola’s practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
Monfort played just eight games in the just-ended 38th season of the league after spending majority of his rookie year in the sidelines due to a broken wrist.
He came back healthy at the start of the Governors Cup, and went to score a career-high 25 points, along with two assists, two rebounds, and two steals in a 104-91 elimination round win by Barako Bull over Ginebra.
However, his fine showing came to an abrupt end when he broke his right ring finger in the team’s 77-81 loss to San Mig Coffee on September 14, ending his season.
Meanwhile, Labagala, is hopeful his transfer to the Energy Cola could inject new life to a career that saw him buried most of the time in the Kings’ deep guard rotation of LA Tenorio, Jayjay Helterbrand, and Josh Urbiztondo this season.
The 5-foot-9 guard out of the University of the East, who was Ginebra’s 12th overall pick in the 2010 draft, played just played 29 games this past season, averaging only 2.5 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.6 assists