LEFT with few options, Kia Motors is basically sticking to a collection of players tapped from the dispersal draft two weeks ago to comprise its lineup when it makes its debut in the PBA this October.
Team manager Eric Pineda admitted the expansion franchise may have to make do with the players it got from the dispersal draft and other walk-in free agents since Kia is in no position to trade for top players, simply because it has nothng to offer in return.
Kia's biggest asset at this point is the No. 11 pick in the August 24 rookie draft, but the team has made it known that it plans to use the selection on player-coach Manny Pacquiao, who submitted his draft application to the league more than a week ago.
“Siyempre, who will trade with us, unless meron talaga silang gustong kunin sa team namin,” Pineda told Spin.ph on Monday shortly after the team’s practice at the Unilab Compound in Pioneer, Mandaluyong.
"Pero I don’t see it right now, because as an expansion team, ang mga players namin wala namang mga superstars," added Pacquiao's longtime business manager and concurrent Kia team manager.
More than 20 players regularly show up for Kia's practice led by dispersal draft pick-ups Nic Belasco, Jai Reyes, Hans Thiele, Paul Sanga, LA Revilla, Richard Alonzo, and Khasim Mirza, and Joshua Webb.
Pacquiao didn’t show up for practice on Monday afternoon as he attended the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino in his capacity as a congressman representing Sarangani province.
Pineda said Kia has yet to sign any of these players, though he hinted at least five to seven of them are assured of spots in the regular roster.
“Siyempre, nobody’s safe, though siguro ang safe dyan mga lima or pito," he said, "but we still have another month to really find the best combination for the team.”
The Kia team manager also said the franchise is looking for players who could embody Pacquiao’s fighting qualities, in the hope that it could pull off surprises in its debut season.