AIR21 and Ginebra have agreed on a deal that would send the Kings' veteran playmaker Mike Cortez to the Express for rookie center Yousef Taha.
Express coach Franz Pumaren confirmed the deal to Spin.ph on Tuesday night, although the trade would still await approval from the Commissioner's Office.
Pumaren said the deal “will be beneficial for both teams.”
“Since Ginebra needed a big man, Yousef could surely help the team because we know after Billy Mamaril, they don’t have another big guy. Kerby (Raymundo) is still sick. On our part, we needed somebody to stabilize the team, which Mike can provide,” Pumaren told Spin.ph.
Pumaren said the trade papers will be forwarded to the Commissioner’s Office on Wednesday.
Cortez’s entry to Air21 reunites him with Pumaren, his college coach at La Salle where they won two UAAP championships in 2000 and 2001.
Cortez, who still joined the Gin Kings’ practice on Tuesday morning, is expected to join the Express’ team practice at the Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday afternoon.
“Mike has accepted the trade professionally. Alam niya ganyan lang talaga ang buhay sa PBA. Puwede kang ma-trade pag gising mo na lang sa umaga,” Cortez’s agent Danny Espiritu, said.
Taha, meantime, will be joining the Gin Kings’ practice at Xavier gym in San Juan on Wednesday morning.
Cortez, the 2003 PBA top rookie pick by Alaska, has averaged career-lows in minutes played, points scored and assists this season after the trade that sent LA Tenorio to the Kings.
On the other hand, the fiery Taha, drafted 11th overall by the Express, is submitting decent numbers of 4.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 19 minutes of action.