KIA’S questionable offseason moves have cast doubts on the desire of other young PBA teams like Blackwater and Phoenix to contend heading into the 43rd season of the Asia’s oldest professional basketball league.
But the governors of the Elite and Fuel Masters insisted that their respective teams have made strides in their plan to join the ranks of title contenders in the upcoming season, and the progress has shown in their own offseason decisions and preseason performance.
“We are determined to win. We enlisted two new coaches, long-time deputy Louie Alas and NCAA achiever Topex Robinson,” said Phoenix alternate governor Raymond Zorilla.
“Then we drafted Jason Perkins, standout from La Salle, we made some minor trades for possible minor players from other teams but for us, they would give good quality minutes,” he added.
The Fuel Masters may have been the most low-key squad when it comes to offseason player movement as they continue to build around Gilas mainstay gunner Matthew Wright alongside veterans RJ Jazul, Jeff Chan and JC Intal.
Aside from Perkins, they also nabbed NAASCU standout Jonjon Gabriel from a post-draft trade while also getting the services of former Kia star LA Revilla in the offseason.
Getting Alas, a guy who has been around the professional and amateur circuits for a longtime, is also a step in the right direction while adding Robinson as his top deputy is an added boost after what the latter did for Lyceum in the NCAA.
“I think we’re all in agreement here that we’re not just sitting idle. We’re not sitting to lose. We’re aiming to win. We made a build-up after the season,” Zorilla continued.
Like the Fuel Masters, the Elite also beefed up in the offseason after selecting rookies Raymar Jose and potential draft sleeper Renz Palma to bolster their young lineup led by the now healthy Mac Belo, Poy Erram, Allein Maliksi and the resurgent Roi Sumang.
The Ever Bilena-owned team was just a game away from their maiden semifinals appearance in the pro-ranks in the last Governor’s Cup and they believe that they have done everything in the offseason to maintain their momentum heading to their fourth season.
“Personally for Blackwater, we have Raymar Jose and I think he will be a big help to Poy Erram. We depend on Erram a lot and when he gets injured, the whole team collapses,” said Blackwater governor Siliman Sy.
“Now we have a second option and hopefully he will give the team a good chance,” he added.
Zorilla also hopes that the fans understand that forming a winning team takes time and the path to the title isn’t easy even with a talent-laden lineup with powerhouse squads like San Miguel, Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text as the biggest obstacles to the title.
“You don’t know what’s happening in the locker room. Intensity is heated because we all want to win,” Zorilla said.
“Whether it is SMC, or MVP group or independent squads, we all want to win.”