RYAN Gregorio could do nothing at the moment but to just rely on the remaining healthy big man he has at injury-depleted Meralco.
As the Bolts await the return of injured slotmen Kerby Raymundo, Cliff Hodge, and Reynel Hugnatan, the outspoken coach said the immediate focus now is to mold newly-acquired center Rabel Al-Hussaini into a reliable inside presence, while trying to make the most out of back-ups Don Allado and James Sena.
“That’s essentially what we need for now. It’s the deck of cards given me, so I’m sticking with it,” he said.
“I have not sat down and look at the pros and cons of a new guy coming in but I still have capable guys to fill the roster. All I need is someone who can fill in the five to six minutes per half for us.”
Gregorio believes Al-Hussaini is capable of doing more than that, although he said he had some things to iron out with the 6-foot-6 former UAAP Most Valuable Player since acquiring the flamboyant big man in a complex, three-team, multi-player deal during the offseason.
“Rabeh is just gonna get better. He’s very positive with his outlook, though the first thing we did was not to polish his game but to smoothen the loose ends on the attitude department,” said the Meralco coach.
The Bolts are coming off an 89-93 loss to Globalport in a game that saw the shorthanded team get pounded off the boards, 37-52.
“But this (Globalport game) was his (Al-Hussaini) first bad game in the last three games, and the bad game is not of his own doing. It’s just because of the matchup,” he added.
He believes that as Al-Hussaini becomes more comfortable with his role of defending, grabbing rebounds, and scoring inside, the Bolts can hold their own against taller teams in the league,
Gregorio reiterated adding a big man from the free agent market at this point may not necessarily be the solution even though his frontline has gone thinner with Hugnatan’s absence.
But he did admit earlier that there were exploratory talks with the camp of former two-time league MVP Danny Ildefonso after the 36-year-old big man became an unrestricted free agent last week when he was officially released by Petron.