27 August 2010

Gregorio to Take 2 Former Letran Knights

By Zean Macamay
Journal Online, 24 August 2010

What do Cyrus Baguio, Olsen Racela and Larry Fonacier have in common?

They all made a name for themselves in the PBA even though they were merely second round picks in the Draft.

Coach Ryan Gregorio hopes he could find one or two on 29 August 2010, the day when the PBA holds the Annual Draft at the Market! Market! in Taguig.

The Meralco head coach trying to form a competitive franchise is now looking at two prospects he hopes would still be available in the second round, players who really did not create noises during the run-up to the PBA’s first big event for next season.

Rey Guevarra and RJ Jazul, two former Letran Knights who had brief stints with the national team (Smart-Gilas), are the ones Gregorio is aiming to acquire when the Bolts pick 11th, 13th and 14th on Draft day.

The three-time champion coach attended yesterday's Rookie Camp held at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. While admitting that big names like Rabeh Al-Husseini, Noy Baclao and Elmer Espiritu were the focus of coaching staff members from other ball clubs, he said he was impressed by the way Guevarra and Jazul performed.

"Other than the usual names, Rey Guevarra, I think, now has the body to be in the PBA," said Gregorio. "Jazul is also impressed me. While this batch isn't really deep, there are players there who can really be a part of the team."

There were also two players – Hanz Thiele and Pari Llagas, both coming out of the University of the East – who are capable of making it to the big league.

There is, however, one main problem.

"I want Rabeh. I want Baclao. I want Espiritu. As much as I want those players, there are 10 others who are in front of me," said Gregorio. "And that is the problem."

"We had a good pick before," said Gregorio, referring to the No. 3 choice Meralco had. "But we gave that away for (Mac-Mac) Cardona. And I think there is no one in the Draft who is better than Mac-Mac. Cardona can fast-track our process. As much as we want to rebuild, we want to win."

History isn’t cruel to players chosen in the second round. Big names have already emerged, and the latest was Baguio, a 14th pick in 2003 by Red Bull who became an instant success the moment he was traded to Alaska for two-time MVP Willie Miller.

Baguio even shared Finals MVP honors with LA Tenorio for the Aces, who also have in their fold Fonacier, another player picked 14th in 2005.

Racela, the veteran guard of San Miguel Beer, also was a far choice in the 1993 Draft, picked 12th by Purefoods, and later became one of the league’s best point guards. He is a rare case of a cerebral playmaker with unquestionable guts and a fine touch from the long court at the free-throw line.

While a known winner, Gregorio is faced with the difficulty of building a competitive team from 'ground zero,' creating a self-assigned goal of steering Meralco to the quarter-finals of the Philippine Cup next season.

"If we make it to the semi-finals, why not," said Gregorio. "It's free to dream. But of course, it will be difficult."

Gregorio said that outside of the established teams, there is only one slot to be disputed in the quarter-finals once the three-conference Philippine Cup kicks off on 3 October.

"You have the three San Miguel teams, and then you have Talk 'N Text and Alaska. So that leaves you with only one slot for the quarter-finals," said Gregorio. "And for sure, Rain or Shine is always there. They (Painters) are a competitive unit. It’s going to be tough, for sure."

1 comment:

  1. Oops i though Racela, Fonacier and Baguio will be on coach Ryan's side at the start of the conference...