A FLURRY of trades in the offseason has left Barako Bull with a surplus of players, giving the coaching staff led by Bong Ramos a headache as it prepares to prune down the team two weeks before the PBA season.
No less than 27 players are in the team pool and a total of 24 players showed up in Barako's regular morning practice on Tuesday — 10 holdovers from the past season, eight coming from recent trade deals, five rookies from Sunday’s draft and a free agent.
Barako Bull acquired big men Willy Wilson and Rico Maierhofer from Barangay Ginebra during draft day after trading away its fourth pick - just one of several perplexing trades that drew criticism from fans and fanned accusations that the Energy Cola are a 'San Miguel farm team.'
The Energy Cola also gave up their fifth pick in exchange for Mark Isip and seldom-used big man Magi Sison of Petron (which traded the pick to Globalport for Yousif Taha) before totally skipping the first round by giving its sixth pick to Globalport for guard Dennis Miranda.
Before that, Barako Bull also swapped Eman Monfort for Rob Labagala of Ginebra.
Their top pick in the draft was 14th overall, which they used to take former San Miguel Beermen guard Jeric Fortuna. Carlo Lastimosa was the final pick of the second round, and he was joined by Darwin Cordero in the third round and Jett Vidal in the fourth.
Ramos said the coaching staff and management will have to trim down the bulging roster by Wednesday since the team is set to leave on Thursday morning for a four-team pocket tournament in Cebu.
“Meron na naman akong naisip na matitira but I still have to talk to management about it,” said Ramos.
There were also changes to the Barako Bull coaching staff with the arrival of Koy Banal, who is coming off a one-conference stint with Petron as one of Boosters coach Gee Abanilla’s assistants.
Despite the team coming under fire for what fans had lambasted as "lopsided" deals, Ramos said he is happy to have a pool of "tried and tested" players to choose from.
“Marami lang 27 (players) sa ngayon, pero kasi ang importante sa akin ngayon, yung sinasabi na beterano, tried and tested na sila sa PBA. Positive yun na nakikita ko sa practice. Pati attitude at intensity nila,” Ramos told Spin.ph after the team’s practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
Ramos said he intends to put together a full-court trapping team that has a lot of options on the half-court set.
“I think I will have a group na pang full-court, pang mabilis at pang set up,” explained the Barako Bull mentor.