LAWRENCE Chongson played down insinuations that his association with Roi Sumang may have something to do with the former University of the East star being snubbed by a lot of teams in the PBA Rookie Draft on Sunday.
Instead, the controversial coach and players’ representative, is sticking to the positives, saying the former University of the East star is a good catch for a GlobalPort team that landed him deep in the draft proceedings at Robinsons Place Manila.
Sumang, a projected first-round selection, wasn’t called on stage until the third round when the Batang Pier surprisingly found him still available in the 63-man rookie pool.
Sumang’s fate was immediately linked to Chongson being his manager, the same man who stood his ground against Rain or Shine management at the time when resident guard Paul Lee was negotiating for a new contract.
Chongson however, refused to dwell on the matter, and instead, urged Sumang to prove people, especially the teams which passed on him, wrong.
“Marami akong nababasa na dahil ako daw ang manager. Ayokong isipin ‘yun. Kung totoo man, ano magagawa ko?” said Chongson, who was at the third floor of the Robinsons Place Midtown Wing atrium to witness the drafting.
“Sabi ko kay Roi na move on. Ganun talaga ang basketball. Iniisip ko na siya ang first pick ng GlobalPort. Maraming mga dating first- and second-round (picks) na hindi mo na alam kung nasaan na,” he said.
Chongson, coach of Tanduay in the PBA D-League who for a time also called the shots for the Warriors in the UAAP, bared Sumang had butterflies in his stomach days before the draft. The player even dreamed about it, he added.
“Kinwento rin sa akin ni Roi na may napanaginipan daw siya na napili siya sa third round. Ang kumuha sa kanya, Talk ‘N Text,” Chongson related.
Chongson stressed teams should not base their draft picks on who the player’s manager is. The long-haired coach even said he is willing to step down as Sumang’s manager, if required to, for the sake of the player.
“Kung ako ang manager ni Troy Rosario, hindi nila kukunin?” asked Chongson, referring to the former National University stalwart who was tabbed at No. 2 overall behind Moala Tautuaa.
“There are ways naman to go around that. Puwede naman sabihin ng teams na, ‘Roi, kukunin ka namin pero palitan mo manager mo.’ Willing naman ako to step aside. 'Yung player ko naman ang lumapit sa akin, hindi ako.”
Chongson also spoke about criticisms of Sumang having an attitude problem, no doubt triggered by missed practices that caused friction between the player and UE coach Derrick Pumaren in his final season with the Warriors.
There were also fears that at 5-8, the high-scoring guard may be too short for his position in the pro league.
“May attitude problem daw si Roi. Kung totoo man na may attitude problem siya, si Roi na ang bahala to prove them wrong,” said Chongson.
But Chongson said Sumang feels right at home at GlobalPort after he attended the team’s first practice on Monday.
“Okay sa GlobalPort kasi established na sila na expansion team. They have Terrence Romeo, Stanley Pringle na mga stars na sa PBA. Kine-kuwento nga sa akin ni (team owner) Boss Mikee (Romero) kahapon na they were looking for a trade para magkaroon ng second round pick para magkaroon ng chance kay Roi,” said Sumang’s manager.
As a late pick by the Batang Pier, Chongson added it will be like starting all over again for Sumang.
“Parang nagsisimula si Roi sa baba. He needs to prove himself again. Before you know it, malay mo, si Roi, 10 years nang nasa PBA. We’ll see what will happen,” he added.