GINEBRA coach Alfrancis Chua is hopeful the acquisition of Fil-Am guard Josh Urbiztondo could bring additional outside scoring threat for the team as it prepares for its PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs encounter against second seed Rain or Shine on Saturday.
The outspoken mentor revealed he has long set his sights on the six-foot point guard, who played a vital role in San Mig Coffee’s Commissioner’s Cup title run a year ago before surprisingly being traded away to Barako Bull at the start of the new season.
“Dati pa yun (plans to trade for Urbiztondo). Eh ngayon lang natuloy,” Chua told Spin.ph just before the team held its morning practice on Thursday.
The entry of the Fresno Pacific product to the Kings, according to Chua, could bring in additional firepower to the team especially with injured superstar Mark Caguioa still weeks away from returning to active duty.
Urbiztondo’s defensive presence at the backcourt will also definitely be a big help to the team, while sharing the playmaking duties with LA Tenorio.
“Siya (Urbiztondo) ang makakapalitan ni LA sa point guard position. At the same time, makakatulong siya sa shooting at depensa. Everybody knows how he plays,” said Chua.
The Ginebra coach knows one loss to twice-to-beat Rain or Shine in their quarterfinal duel would mean another early vacation for the franchise, which is why Chua intends to maximize Urbiztondo’s strengths as he tries to help fill in the shoes vacated by Caguioa.
“Mas nagkatira na kami sa labas with Josh around. May reliever na si Mark at LA,” he added.
The 6-foot-1 Caguioa was averaging more than 22 points per contest before going down with an MCL tear on his left knee nearly a month ago during Ginebra’s game against Meralco.
Since then, the Kings had to rely on their bench, which saw unheralded players like Robert Labagala, Elmer Espiritu and even Mac Baracael play big roles in the team’s six-game winning run towards the tailend of the eliminations.
But back-to-back losses against top seed Alaska and Talk `N Text in their last two outings have relegated the Kings to No. 7 entering the playoffs.