GLOBALPORT just couldn’t resist the lure of further upgrading its roster as it set to ship veteran big man Enrico Villanueva to Air21 in exchange for backup center Carlo Sharma and rugged forward Ronnie Matias.
The trade comes in the heels of owner Mikee Romero’s earlier vow not to tinker the current lineup of the team after consummating an earlier trade that dealt Sol Mercado to San Miguel, while acquiring in return guards Alex Cabagnot and Bonbon Custodio during the conference break.
The Batang Pier likewise named Pido Jarencio as their head coach in lieu of interim mentor Richie Ticzon.
Sources from both teams said the trade already had the blessings of their respective officials and is now just awaiting the formal approval of league commissioner Chito Salud.
“Pumayag na si boss Lito sa trade, pinirmahan na niya. Hinihintay na lang naman ang approval ng PBA,” said the Air21 source, who requested not to be named as he is not authorized to officially announce the deal.
Matias, a known blue-collar worker, could easily suit the style of Jarencio at Globalport, while Sharma is expected to provide added ceiling for the team that continues to miss the services of team captain Eric Menk due to a hamstring injury.
A former University of Manila stalwart, Matias was acquired by the Express from Rain or Shine and suited up for the team during the Philippine Cup this season, but played sparingly after arriving late in the conference.
Matias still saw action for the Express’ game against Barako Bull Energy on Friday.
The 6-foot-6 Villanueva, once healthy, can provide the needed inside presence for the Express, who have been relying heavily on 41-year-old Asi Taulava this season.
Villanueva, a one-time Best Player of the Conference, played just one game for the Batang Pier during the Philippine Cup after having knee problems since tearing his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) during the 2012-13 season.