WHILE stars Gregory Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand reported for Barangay Ginebra's first practice on Monday, four players rumored to be on the trading block were conspicuously absent from the CCF Gym in Ortigas.
Veteran big man Dorian Pena, streak shooter Josh Urbiztondo and young guards Jens Knuttel and Emman Monfort were not around for coach Tim Cone's first practice with the team, reinforcing talk that Ginebra trades are in the offing involving some if not all of the four players.
A source from Ginebra told Spin.ph that the four were indeed told not to go to practice for the time being.
“Hindi na sila pinapunta sa practice eh. At sinabihan rin sila na huwag sumagot sa mga tawag ng media para hindi maungkat,” said the source. “Sa ngayon, di pa alam ang plano, mate-trade ata sila eh. Depende pa. Tambay lang daw muna 'yung apat."
Asked by Spin.ph about the status of the four players, Cone said: “I think you’re going to have to talk to (Ginebra board of governor) Alfrancis Chua for that info.”
But there are clues that can help complete the puzzle.
According to sources, there is a chance Pena and Urbiztondo can end up at GlobalPort in exchange for still unnamed players, although there is talk it might be for either Jervy Cruz or Jay Washington - or both.
Both Cruz and Washington have been recently acquired by the Batang Pier in recent trades.
Another Ginebra source revealed Cone is trying to streamline the Kings' line-up as they have a surplus of players at their disposal.
“Ang dami nilang players. Kailangan din magbawas. Labing apat ang nag ensayo kanina. Pag sinama mo pa yung apat na yun, disi otso na sila. Mas magulo,” said the team source.
"Isipin mo disi otso players mo tapos darating pa si (Scottie) Thompson. Kaya malamang, pa-trade na rin yung tatlo na yun."
Another information reaching Spin.ph is the possibility of rookie Aljon Mariano finding his way to Globalport and be reunited with college mentor Pido Jarencio.
"Kasama si Aljon sa mga inaayos pa,” said the same source about Mariano, who was tabbed by the Kings in the second round of the draft.
Monfort and big man Dave Marcelo, who incidentally was at Ginebra’s practice on Monday morning, meanwhile are said to be eyed by other teams including NLEX, which is willing to give KG Canaleta in return.
But NLEX team manager Ronald Dulatre bared that since his last negotiations with Chua three weeks ago, no update has so far been given to them.
“Nag-usap kami dati pero hindi nagkasarahan eh. Pero we are still waiting for them to re-open the negotiations,” said Dulatre. “Sana lang they are willing to trade with us, open naman kami to talk to them."
But Dulatre’s wish may not come as Chua is said to be negotiating with Barako Bull team manager Reyboy Marquez, his fellow former University of Santo Tomas Tiger, for a series of trades.
Barako’s free agent forward Nico Salva has been present in Ginebra practices.
Spin.ph has earlier reported that Salva is one of the young wingmen Cone wants to develop under his watch.
No less than San Miguel Corporation big boss Ramon S. Ang has vowed to make Ginebra a formidable team next season, a mission he has started to fulfill with the appointment of Cone last month.