FROM the looks of it, Barangay Ginebra is still bent on shoring up an already loaded frontline for the coming 40th season of the PBA.
Even with towering Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and Jay-R Reyes around, the Kings looked far from finished in beefing up their frontcourt as mull over their choices for Sunday's PBA rookie draft, beginning with the No. 6 selection overall.
In the days leading to the draft proceedings, Ginebra invited for tryouts rookie hopefuls Rodney Brondial, Jake Pascual, and Andrew Avillanoza, all of whom stands 6-foot-5.
Also spotted on Thursday were San Beda's Semerad twins Anthony and David.
Philip Morrison and Chris Banchero were the only guards invited to show up for the team’s practice.
Brondial dislosed to Spin.ph he was given a two-day tryout by Ginebra coach Jeffrey Cariaso at the CCF gym in Ortigas.
“Dalawang araw po akong pinapunta sa practice tapos pinasabay po ako sa drills at conditioning, tapos may mga five-on-five kami,” said the big man out of Adamson.
“Pero OK naman po mga players at sa tingin ko OK naman po mga ginawa ko… Sana!” he added.
A Ginebra source told Spin.ph the Kings are seriously considering Brondial with the No. 6 pick owing to his agility and reliable jumper from the outside.
Told about it, Brondial flashed a wide grin, but said he’d rather manage his expectations.
"OK po ako sa Ginebra kasi po maganda ang pakisama ng mga players dun. Mababait. Hindi ko po muna iniisip na kukunin nila ako, kasi ayaw ko pong umasa hangga’t maaari,” he said.
Avillanoza, a close friend and former roommate of Slaughter, was also at the Kings’ practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, although the Cebuano is not raising his expectations.
“They (Kings) have the sixth pick, but I don’t think they’d draft me that early,” he said.
“In all the predictions, they don’t have me that high at all. I am just hoping and praying for the best,” added the former Blackwater Sports center.
But playing for Ginebra would not only reunite him with Slaughter but also with best pals James Forrester and Chris Ellis.
“Obviously, it will be a dream come true if I get to play with Greg, Forrester, and Ellis. I am pretty close to those guys. It’ll be a dream come true going to practice with those guys,” he said.
“But right now, I just want an opportunity to play and show my game.”
Although the only guard invited for a tryout, Morrison received positive feedback from Ginebra insiders owing to his impressive passing skills, perimeter shooting, and superb basketball IQ.
“Maayos 'yung Morrison, kaso guwardiya na naman. Tingnan namin kung paano. Mas OK pa nga `yung Morrison sa ibang mga guards sa pool,” said the Ginebra source.
The guard out of Asbury University said he was happy just to have the chance to practice with the country’s most popular ballclub, more so getting advice and hands-on training from Ginebra's resident stars Mark Caguioa and JayJay Helterbrand.
“I am so honored to work out with them (Caguioa and Helterbrand). They just gave me a lot of veteran advice, like about how to handle myself professionally,” he said.
“If they’d invite me back and hopefully come back to play for them, it’ll be a dream come true. But right now, I want to work harder and make an impact in the PBA,” said the cat-quick six-foot playmaker.
Jake Pascual, the former Gilas cadet member, also enjoyed working out with the Kings.
“OK ang ensayo sa Ginebra. Disiplinado saka maayos ang flow ng mga plays, maganda nga kung dun ako mapunta,” he said.
Pascual added he’s even willing to fight for his playing minutes under the already loaded frontcourt of the Kings.
“Andun na `yung mawawalang ako ng playing time (pag na-draft ako ng Ginebra). Pero maganda nga `yun e. Challenge sa sarili ko 'yun para mas pag-butihan ko ang ensayo at laro ko,” he said.