For Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio, the Bolts’ trading lines are always open - as long as it can make his middling team more competitive.
Speaking to Spin.ph in the wake of Tuesday’s five-team, 10-player PBA trade, the eloquent mentor expressed willingness to mix up his roster, especially if they could get a big man that could replace former stalwart Asi Taulava, who now plies his craft in the Asean Basketball League.
Although Gregorio said they have moved on since Taulava chose to jump ship from Meralco to the ABL with the San Miguel Beermen just before the 38th season opened, the big hole vacated by Taulava remained obvious during the Philippine Cup as the Bolts eventually got swept by the taller and physical Alaska Aces in their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
With import Eric Dawson in tow, Gregorio feels the need for a solid man in the middle has been addressed, but on a long-term basis, they just can’t simply rely on their 6-foot-9 former San Antonio Spur reinforcement.
“Defending and rebounding can be answered right now by our import Eric Dawson, but am I done with that? I think that’s something every coach shouldn’t say,” said Gregorio, whose team got 26 points and 18 rebounds from Dawson following Meralco’s 96-84 tune-up game victory over Globalport.
“If there’s an opportunity to improve our roster power, we can sit down and talk about it (trade). Since I coached the team, you can see that I had made so many (player) movements in the past. And I am not about to stop because we’re willing to discuss as long as we can plug our hole in the middle,” said the 40-year-old coach.
But Gregorio knows trading for a quality big man will be hard, admitting he has few players to offer.
“If you look at our roster, the guys in demand are just few. Konti lang ang attractive sa ibang teams. So if the trade won’t really be good for us, we won’t trade,” he added.
The Bolts, Gregorio said, have been a middle-tier squad. But he hopes that with Dawson providing the defensive spunk and rebounding help, Meralco will finally make it all the way to the Finals.
“I’m very hard to satisfy and I’m very demanding on my players. I’m tired of seeing our team in the middle. We’re now raising the bar and we want to make it to the Finals,” said Gregorio, who joined the Meralco franchise in 2010 after spending his first eight years as head coach with Purefoods/ B-Meg.