FIL-AM forward Rob Wainwright is hoping to make a PBA comeback, not as a player but to help call the shots as of one head coach Manny Pacquiao’s deputies at expansion team Kia Motors.
The 6-foot-4 Wainwright has been a regular fixture for the past two weeks in the team's tryouts for veteran free agents at Kia’s practice venue at the Sta. Lucia gym in Cainta, Rizal.
Wainwright, now 40, declined to talk about his plans with Kia, though he admitted helping Pacquiao oversee the tryouts, along with one-time Mapua head coach and former PBA player Chito Victolero.
“As of now, I’m helping out (Kia). Pero, ito 'yung problema kasi from day one (of the tryout) tryouts lang. Hindi pa kaya magpa-pirma,” Wainwright told Spin.ph.
Although playing in Asia’s first ever professional league remains an option, Wainwright said his main concern has always been his bad knees.
“My basketball side says I would love to play, but my intellect as a person would (think) probably not because I have bad knees. That was my problem most of my career,” said the former standout of Solano Community College.
Wainwright explained that holding early tryouts will give Pacquiao an idea who to pick in next month’s dispersal draft for the three PBA expansion teams, namely Kia, Blackwater Sports, and NLEX.
Set on July 18, the dispersal draft will be held at the PBA office in Libis.
“Pero puro veteran free agents pa lang saka yung mga players na napapirmahan lang ng one conference sa PBA ang nagta-tryout,” Wainwright added.
“As of now, kulang sa bigs. We’re full of guards (trying out). That’s the concern, where to get the bigs. Though, at least when the dispersal (draft) starts, alam mo na options sa draft pool on July,” said Wainwright, noted for his solid medium-range jump shot during his heyday in the pro league.
Wainwright began his professional basketball career with the Cebu Gems in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association in 1998, before joining the PBA as a direct-hire player of Sta. Lucia.
He also had stints with Formula Shell (2001 to 2002), Coca-Cola (2003 to 2005-06), Welcoat/Rain or Shine (2006-07 to 2008-09), before ending his career with Barako Bull (2009 to 2011). He owned career averages of 8.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 383 games.
Wainwright later played 17 games in the inaugural season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL), helping the Philippine Patriots win the 2009-10 season championship.
He served as Saigon Heat’s assistant coach during the 2012 ABL eason.