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    Phoenix expects RJ Jazul to take on leadership role, Eriobu as Willy Wilson type of contributor

    Feb 19, 2017
    Joseph Eriobu comes in to bolster Phoenix's frontline. Jaime Campos

    PHOENIX coach Ariel Vanguardia admitted it was hard to let go young guns Simon Enciso and Prince Caperal, but stressed trading them away is both for their own good and the team.

    Enciso and Caperal were sent to Alaska and Mahindra respectively, on separate deals Saturday in a move Vanguardia said would benefit the careers of the two young players.

    He said Enciso and Caperal will have better chance of exposure under their new teams unlike when they were with the Fuel Masters.

    "I'm sure they are in good hands," said Vanguardia from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he had a brief overnight stay to wafch his former team, the Westport Malaysia Dragons, play Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).

    [See Alaska sends Jazul to Phoenix for Enciso]

    But Vanguardia can't help but be a little bit emotional knowing the Fuel Masters will no longer have the two around when the PBA Commiasioner's Cup gets underway on March 17.

    "It's a bittersweet feeling since Simon and Prince grew up with the team," he said.

    At the same time, he's excited to have veteran RJ Jazul and rookie Joseph Eriobu join Phoenix. Jazul came in from Alaska in a trade for Enciso, while Eriobu came over from Mahindra for Caperal.

    "RJ can give us a veteran leader, while Joseph will be guided by Willy Wilson," he said. "I see him as Willie Wilson 2.0."

    Jazul is no stranger to Vanguardia. The former Letran guard once played for him when he was coach of Toyota in the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL) where he partnered JV Casio at the backcourt.

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    In parting, Vanguardia wished his two former players well.

    "We thank them for battling with Phoenix," he said of Enciso and Caperal. "I think it's a win-win (trade) for both teams."

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