TALK ‘N Text has had the most success the last season, but developments over the last few weeks have made Petron the team by which all other PBA squads will be measured in the next campaign.
This was the consensus after an eventful week that saw the flagship team of San Miguel Corp. announce a coaching change, pull off a trade to trim the edges in its lineup then get the best freshman talent with the No. 1 and third picks overall of the draft.
While Talk ‘N Text basically stood still as the coaching reins changed hands from Chot Reyes to Norman Black, Petron was abuzz with activity beginning with the standing down of Ato Agustin to give way to Olsen Racela and his new mentor Rajko Toroman.
The Boosters were also the biggest gainers in Sunday’s draft, landing top pick overall June Mar Fajardo who Tim Cone described as a “man among boys” during the pre-draft camps, then adding versatile Fil-American Alex Mallari with the third pick. The team has also agreed on a trade that would send Nonoy Baclao and Rob Reyes to Air21, certainly with the future in mind.
The case of one strong team getting even stronger was not lost on Yeng Guiao.
“The question is, ‘How can you match up with Petron now’?” said the Rain or Shine coach coach. “Bukod sa dalawang rookies na nakuha nila, nandiyan pa si Arwind (Santos), Jay Washington, Alex Cabagnot, Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter.”
Cone said the more integral change in Petron comes in the coaching staff.
Although Racela is set to be named head coach, former national coach Toroman is expected to play a bigger and more defined role as the team that got shut out of the title picture last season looks to reclaim its place at the top of the league hierarchy.
Cone believes Toroman will have a big imprint on the team this season. “I think Rajko’s gonna have a lot of influence on Petron,” he said.
“Rajko’s stuff is signature. You can see that. He’s been coaching major teams since 1988, starting with the Serbian national team, so I expect Olsen to get a lot of inputs from Rajko during practice,” Cone added.
However, Cone was quick to warn against taking Talk ‘N Text for granted, saying Black has inherited enough talent to keep the Texters from falling off the perch.
“You can never eliminate Talk ‘N Text come this season. They have the talent, the size, the speed and they have the experience,” said Cone.