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    Perfect match as Air21 coach expects Custodio to thrive with team

    Sep 20, 2012
    Bonbon Custodio has fallen out of favor at Alaska following the arrival of Dondon Hontiveros. Jerome Ascano

    AIR21 coach Franz Pumaren needs a legitimate scorer. Bonbon Custodio needs a new home after falling out of favor with Alaska.

    The trade couldn't have gone any better.

    "We now have a guy who can score and someone who can penetrate. Bonbon will be a big addition to our team," Pumaren told after giving away the team's 2014 second-round draft pick in exchange for the 29-year-old Custodio.

    The 5'11" Custodio, a former star with the University of the East Warriors in the UAAP, spent his last two seasons with Alaska, averaging just 5.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and one assist in 75 games as he struggled to adjust to the Aces' more deliberate style of offense.

    He is expected to flourish in the open-court style of play of Air21 under Pumaren, who has long been in search of a high-flying player who can run the break well.

    Pumaren said Custodio's arrival is timely since sophomore guard Eric Salamat injured his left knee late in the third period of a 94-98 loss to Barako Bull in a preseason game on Thursday at the Reyes Gym.

    "Eric's injury, I hope won't be that serious. Looking at him kanina, baka seryoso, but hopefully I'm wrong. Of course, Eric's injury hurts our rotation, but with Bonbon coming in, he can help us immediately on offense," said Pumaren.

    Meantime, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said the team has been helping Custodio find a PBA team the past month considering that the Aces already have Cyrus Baguio and Dondon Hontiveros, whom they recently acquired from Petron in a trade.

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    "We don't want to embarrass Bonbon by putting him in the third group. Because we want Dondon to grow and help out on offense together with Cyrus in the two-guard, while RJ (Jazul) and our rookie Rafi Reyes are doing very well in our preseason games," Trillo said.

    "I feel we have placed Bonbon in a position where he can contribute immediately to Air21 because that team lacks a scorer," added Trillo, whose team leaves on Friday morning for the pocket tournament in Cebu City.

    Air21 will be Custodio's fourth team as he enters his fifth PBA season. He was San Miguel Beer's eighth overall pick in the 2008 rookie draft, averaging 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Beermen.

    The following season, he was shipped to Sta. Lucia Realty, before winding up at Alaska the last two years.

    In recent weeks, Air21 has grown bigger with the acquisition of big men Noy Baclao, KG Canaleta and Rob Reyes from trades. The Express also signed up rookies Yousif Taha as the team's backup center and guard Simon Atkins.

    Pumaren said the trade papers will be forwarded on Thursday afternoon at the PBA Commissioner's Office for the approval of commissioner Chito Salud.

    Custodio is in the final year of his contract, which will end on August 2013. He is currently receiving P220,000 a month.

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    Bonbon Custodio has fallen out of favor at Alaska following the arrival of Dondon Hontiveros. Jerome Ascano
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