They Said It!
“Pumayat si Eric (Menk). Mukhang kundisyon. 'Yung old moves niya andun pa rin" - Globalport coach Junel Baculi
A BUFF Eric Menk surprised everyone including coach Junel Baculi when he showed up for Globalport's practice on Wednesday morning at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus.
“I heard the team is working on having him here pero I didn’t expect na ngayon siya darating,” said Baculi, who bared how team owner Mikee Romero has been personally batting for Menk’s inclusion in their team’s roster for the coming season.
Inactive since playing for San Miguel Beer in its successful title campaign in the ABL in June, the former PBA MVP is being eyed by Romero as the final piece in a massive offseason buildup that saw the Batang Pier collar top rookies and talented veterans.
[For full story, see Source: Globalport looking to sign Menk as final piece in offseason buildup]
More than Menk's presence, what surprised Baculi and Globalport's players was the well-chiselled physique and impressive play of the many-time All-Star despite months of inactivity.
“Pumayat si Eric. Mukhang kundisyon. 'Yung old moves niya andun pa rin,” said the fiery mentor.
Globalport veteran big man Jondan Salvador said of the 39-year-old power forward: “Okay naman siya. Parang nag-lose ng weight. Mukhang mas kundisyon nga siya ngayon. Nakasabay siya sa practice namin kanina. Nakatapos pa tapos nag-extra shooting pa siya after."
“Nag extra work out siguro yun for a few weeks, kasi andun yung kilos eh,” he added. “Game shape lang kulang sa kanya, kasi June 12 pa siya huli naglaro. Pero pagnakuha niya 'yun, babalik ang bagsik niyan. Beterano na 'yan nasa system na niya ang laro.”
Although Menk will be a big threat to him in the battle for playing time, Salvador said he doesn’t mind.
“Malaking addition sa amin si Eric Menk, syempre yung respect sa kanya ng mga big men … hindi nawawala yun,” said Salvador. “Eric Menk is Eric Menk!”
“Walang problema sa akin kung ako pa maapektuhan sa playing time, basta tayo lalaro kung mabibigyan ng time. Lagi naman tayong ganun eh. Always ready!” he added.
Meanwhile, Baculi bared that Globalport management is still in the thick of negotiations with Menk, who is an unrestricted free agent after being dropped from the lineup by Ginebra.
“Everything is not yet cast in stone, in as far as his career with the team is concerned. Pero our management is already working on it," Baculi said.
But there is no doubt in Baculi's mind that Menk will come in handy for him next season.
"We will need Eric in our frontline … He’ll be a big factor inside,” he said.