AFTER drafting three high-profile rookies with a history of animosity between them, Globalport team owner Mikee Romero was surprisingly the least bit worried that his new players won't get along.
They should. Otherwise they will have to sit out, he warned.
They Said It!
“Pag hindi sila umayos... may paglalagyan sila sa bench namin!" - Globalport team owner Mikee Romero
Chemistry - or the lack of it - suddenly becomes the main issue at Globalport after the second-year team used the fourth and fifth picks in the PBA rookie draft on RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo, two college stars who never meshed during their time together at Far Eastern University.
Although they never admitted any long-standing feud between them, it was clear Garcia and Romeo's inability to blend weighed down the title hopes of a Tamaraws team that was considered to have enough talent to go all the way.
Throw in former Ateneo star Nico Salva, who fought countless battles with the two on the court and had one very public war of words with Romeo who he criticized on Twitter for being a 'ball hog."
[For full story, see Nico Salva's dig at 'ball hog' Romeo triggers war of words on Twitter]
Still, Romero has no such worries the trio may have similar problems at Globalport, saying such distractions have no place in the pro ranks.
“Sa akin, diskarte na ng coaching staff 'yan kung paano sila patitinuin," said Romero, who was on the draft floor when Globalport made four major selections in the draft - including big man Isaac Holstein at No. 7 and Salva in the second round at No. 11 overall.
"But this is the PBA. They have to behave. They should realize that this is a different atmosphere, they are not the heart and soul of this team,” added Romero.
If they fail to get along, there's just one place for each one of them, Romero said.
“Pag hindi sila umayos … iuupo ko 'yan. May paglalagyan sila sa bench namin,” the Globalport owner warned, adding he has never hesitated in the past to ‘embargo’ any player who refused to play by the rules of the coaching staff.
“May isa nga akong player, reklamo ng reklamo. Inuupo ko ng matagal eh. Wala akong pakialam kung sino siya,” he said.
The Sultan 900 Incorporated president bared that this strict approach has worked when he won championships in the PBL, ABL and even in the Southeast Asian Games.
Globalport coach Junel Baculi, on the other hand, is looking at his odd mix of rookies as a challenge.
“Tinatanong mo kung ready na ba akong sumakit ang ulo? Dati pa naman na sumakit ang ulo ko sa lineup ko di ba?” Baculi said in jest.
He added: “Boss Mikee wants to rebuild our team and put in some good young players to the team. And we are happy with what we did today."
Asked how he intends to have Garcia, Romeo and Salva on the same page, the fiery mentor burst into laughter and said: “Pupunta nga ako ng Chinatown, magtatanong ako sa mga cook dun, para lutuin ito.”
Turning serious, Baculi said a trip to Cebu this week for a pocket tournament, also participated in by Barako Bull Energy Cola, the Alaska Aces and a team from Davao, is a good time to bond not only for the three rookies but for the entire team.
“Yun ang titignan kong magandang pagkakataon to give our boys the time to get to know each other,” said Baculi.