THE signing of Carlo Lastimosa could only be the beginning of a roster overhaul for KIA in a bid to turn its sagging fortune around in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Picanto officially signed the 27-year-old Lastimosa to a contract on Friday when he also had his first practice with the team at its training facility at the Azure Urban Resort and Residences.
Terms of the deal were not made available, although the signing came less than 24 hours after KIA got the release papers of Lastimosa from his mother ballclub NLEX, which reportedly bought out the remaining years of his contract with the team.
“We’re still looking for one big man and a point guard,” team manager Joe Lipa disclosed to SPIN.ph after the team ended practice for its game against Rain or Shine on Saturday.
Ironically, KIA traded the right to draft Fil-German big man Christian Standhardinger at No. 1 overall to SMB prior to the rookie draft and later let go of LA Revilla after the point guard criticized the trade on social media.
“We need firepower and I think as team manager, Carlo would be a great help to the team. He has the skills and the talent. And veteran na rin naman siya sa PBA,” Lipa added.
The Picanto tumbled to their fourth straight loss after a 102-65 rout at the hands of Alaska last week, which prompted the coaching staff led by Ricky Dandan and management to sit down and look for options.
“We’re put in a crisis situation where we need to adopt drastic measures,” said Lipa, adding management has given him the green light to look for players available in the market.
Dandan added, “Among others, we’re forced into a situation to shake the lineup a little bit. And when we look into the free agent market, it so happened we found his (Lastimosa) name available.”
Aside from Lastimosa, other big names in the free agent market are Jonas Vilanueva, Keith Jensen, Joseph Yeo, Chris Lutz, Macmac Cardona, and Gary David.
Chris Ellis has been left out of the lineup by Blackwater after going AWOL since being traded by Ginebra.
Lastimosa already showed up in KIA’s practice on Thursday at the Astrodome, but didn’t join the team in its scrimmage pending the release papers from NLEX, which the Picanto obtained later in the day.
Lipa said Lastimosa is in good shape although he suffered a sprain in practice.
“But he’ll be playing (against Rain or Shine). Doc Iby (Bautista, assistant team manager) did a good job of managing the sprain,” said the veteran coach turned team executive.
Although the former College of St. Benilde stalwart just practiced once with the Picanto, Dandan doesn’t see Lastimosa having difficulty getting into the flaw of the team’s so-called ‘unconventional system.’
“Of course, he’ll not be able to catch-up the entire system in just one game, but I don’t see any problem him not fitting in,” said the KIA coach.
Dandan is tempering expectations at this point, but believes the son of former player Danny Lastimosa will definitely be a big help for the Picanto.
“We’ll see, very premature to talk about it at this time (Lastimosa’s contributions), but sigurado makakatulong yan as the conference goes on. Added firepower yan,” he said.
Dandan did substantiate what Lipa earlier said about the need to add more pieces to the teal following Lastimosa’s acquisition.
“The coaching staff has a list (of possible players) although I would rather not divulge the names right now,” he said, adding the Picanto would only get players according to the needs of the team.
“Yung intended needs lang naman. Kung aangkop lang,” said Dandan.