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    PBA preview: Barako Bull wastes golden opportunity and takes another step backwards

    Nov 15, 2013
    Former MVP Willie Miller now stands at the head of a strange collection of players at Barako Bull that also includes Rico Maierhofer, Jeric Fortuna, and Carlo Lastimosa. Jerome Ascano

    (Third of a 10-part series serving as our primer for the coming PBA season)

    Barako Bull

    2012-2013 record: 13-25

    Head coach: Bong Ramos

    Rookies: Jeric Fortuna and Carlo Lastimosa (rookies)

    Offseason additions: Robert Labagala, Dennis Miranda, Willie Miller, Mark Isip, Willy Wilson, Rico Maierhofer

    Gone from last season: Celino Cruz, Shawn Weinstein, Eman Monfort, Enrico Villanueva, Danny Seigle, Elmer Espiritu, Gilbert Bulawan

    Holdovers: Mick Pennisi, Dorian Pena, Jonas Villanueva, JC Intal, Ronjay Buenafe, Dave Marcelo, Keith Jensen, Mark Macapagal

    Reserve: Carlo Lastimosa (rookie), Rico Maierhofer

    Strengths: No team has attracted more scorn in the offseason than Barako Bull, which put to waste a major opportunity to rebuild by inexplicably trading away three precious first-round picks.

    Instead of dipping its hands into one of the deepest and most talented drafts in recent years and becoming a team of the future, Barako Bull acted like it had consistently done in the past and rekindled past accusations that it is no more than a 'farm team' for the San Miguel-owned teams.

    Not only did it waste a good opportunity to move forward, it also has taken severals steps backwards by trading away some of the few good players it had in Eman Monfort and Rico Villanueva and giving former national coach Rajko Toroman the boot.

    This should be about the 'strengths' of Barako Bull, yet the only positive from all these controversial transactions is that the team ended up with an overload of veteran players who are capable of winning this season instead of a young team that will need some time to mature.

    Continue reading below ↓

    Other than that, there isn't a lot of positives to Barako's moves.

    Weakness: A close look at Barako Bull's roster reveals it has six players  33 years old or older. Big men Mick Pennisi and Dorian Pena are now 38 and 36, respectively, while former two-time league MVP Willie Miller is also at the twilight of his career at 36.

    That easily puts to question the team’s ability to match up against younger and quicker teams like Petron, Barangay Ginebra, Rain or Shine, and even defending champion Talk ‘N Text.

    Head coach Bong Ramos, who took over from Toroman, admits he has only two options with his present roster: play the half-court set to preserve the legs of his veterans, or try to push the pace by gambling on their few young players like sophomore Keith Jensen, rookie Jeric Fortuna, shooter Ronjay Buenafe and Robert Labagala, who the team acquired in the Monfort trade.

    Season outlook: Barako Bull may still pull off surprises here and there, but unless management makes a serious effort to invest long term in a core of young, talented players, the Energy Cola will never be taken seriously in theis league. The team should be happy if it makes the playoffs this season. 

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    Former MVP Willie Miller now stands at the head of a strange collection of players at Barako Bull that also includes Rico Maierhofer, Jeric Fortuna, and Carlo Lastimosa. Jerome Ascano
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