MERALCO coach Ryan Gregorio believes Tuesday's five-team, 10-player trade was the San Miguel organization's way of "self-correcting" the rosters of the three teams under its umbrella ahead of the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Sister teams Petron, Barangay Ginebra, and San Mig Coffee figured prominently in the blockbuster deal, with the Mixers getting rookie Alex Mallari, Leo Najorda, Lester Alvarez and a 2014 first-round pick, the Gin Kings getting Mac Baracael and the Boosters getting their hands on Ronald Tubid.
“What’s obvious here is that San Miguel-owned teams are self-correcting their rosters. They have the big luxury of plugging the holes in their three respective teams,” Gregorio told Spin.ph following his team’s 96-84 whipping of Globalport in their tune-up game at the Meralco gym.
Gregorio said “subtracting” one player from the roster can sometimes work to a team's advantage, and this is especially true for Petron, which may have lost Mallari and Jojo Duncil, but got a solid role player and defender in Tubid.
At the same time, Gregorio said Tim Cone’s move to acquire Mallari, Najorda, and a 2014 first round pick makes the Mixers more competitive this season and in a better position to rebuild for the future.
“While San Mig performed well last conference, it’s interesting to see coach Tim make the move. Coach Tim actually solidified his roster by bringing in Alex Mallari, who can play multiple positions. He then added a bruiser in Leo Najorda, and then a 2014 pick, which adds to the 2013 pick they already had in the previous deal with Josh Urbiztondo.
“I think coach Tim is thinking long-term in terms of roster strength, an intelligent move to answer their problems now while thinking of the future as well,” observed Gregorio, who incidentally led the San Mig Coffee/Purefoods franchise to three PBA titles in his eight years (2002-2010) with the team.
On the other hand, coaches Franz Pumaren of Air21 and Rain or Shine’s Yeng Guiao shared the sentiment that Barako Bull emerged as the biggest winner in the trade as far as talent-loading is concerned.
“Barako Bull solved its problem because they now have a balance in their backcourt with Jonas Villanueva helping Josh in the point. At the same time, by getting JC (Intal), it’s an opportunity for him to shine at Barako Bull and get the playing time he needs to blossom,” said Pumaren.
Guiao said: “Off-hand, Barako Bull ang biggest beneficiary ng trade na iyan dahil sa talent na nakuha nila.”
A poll ongoing at Spin.ph showed fans are split on the issue, with 35.9 percent saying San Mig got the best from the deal and 30.59 percent saying Barako Bull was the big winner in the mega-deal.