IT was a trade that had been consummated before and revisited just recently involving the same teams and same personalities.
And so it came as a surprise for San Miguel officials that a lot are criticizing the deal involving guards Alex Cabagnot for Sol Mercado, especially with the Beermen now reaping the dividends after going up 2-0 against Talk `N Text in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series.
Team manager Gee Abanilla said the team made the transaction out of necessity and not for anything else.
“It’s not a question if you’re a good player or not. It’s who the better fit is,” said Abanilla, the former San Miguel coach in the aftermath of the Beermen’s 87-81 win in Game Two of the best-of-seven series.
Cabagnot took over for San Miguel in Sunday’s win, firing a team-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, including 12 in the first quarter.
Overall, he’s averaging 17 points and 4.5 rebounds in his two games back with the Beermen, who are now just two wins away from making it back to the Finals for the first time since the 2013 Governors Cup.
Obviously, San Miguel’s domination so far of its series with Talk `N Text once again put in the spotlight the franchise’s trade-deadline acquisition of Cabagnot, which only a few believed was fair.
A lot of fans also questioned the trade, not only because of its timing - the Beermen were the top team in the eliminations when management pulled the trigger on the swap - but also because they fear Cabagnot may end up hurting the Beermen's chemistry.
Abanilla begs to disagree.
“Bakit noong na-trade si Alex for Sol Mercado, walang nagsasabi ng ganyan? Ngayong nag-trade uli plus may two draft picks pa, they’re saying it’s not fair? I just can’t see the logic,” he said.
Abanilla also said he, the coaching staff, and management had input on the Cabagnot-for-Mercado trade, contrary to popular belief.
“Naging consideration namin is `yung question na sino ba yung better fit sa ginagawa namin? And the opportunity was there for us to get Alex,” said the San Miguel team manager.
Coach Leo Austria meanwhile, disclosed he’s been eyeing to tap Cabagnot as early as the rookie draft, but somewhere along the way, no deal was able to be made.
“Kaya nga we’re fortunate dahil nung trade deadline biglang andun siya,” Austria recalled. “I think he’s right for our team dahil nakita naman natin yung first two games niya rito.”
Even Austria can’t understand the line of thinking of others who insisted the trade favored San Miguel more.
“I don’t know why they’re saying that? Dahil nung nag-trade si Alex and Sol before, wala namang narinig,” said Austria, who added Mercado and backcourt mate Chris Ross are really not bad playmakers.
“It just so happened na 'yung pangangailangan namin sa point guard ay katulad ng laro ni Alex. Siguro sinasabi nilang unfair because maybe, nakita nila na maganda ang pinapakita ni Alex sa team.”