19 June 2014

Wasted Opportunities and Worthless Trades

Worthless Trades
If there’s one thing that the Meralco Bolts is good at, it’s on the way they wasted their opportunities and their seemingly lack of long-term vision or maybe they have none at all.

It was as if not a few seasons ago when the Bolts had a chance to slowly build themselves up from scratch with future draft picks. But coach Ryan Gregorio and company had other things in mind. They wanted to teach us, non-coaches, how to destroy that chance through quick and head-scratching trades.

What the Bolts coaching did was unforgivable to fans, but, surprisingly, still got the support of top management. They acquired Sol Mercado in 2012 together with Paulo Bugia from Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Eric Rodriguez from Air 21 Express in exchange for Beau Belga, Reed Juntilla and two second round picks in 2011 and 2013.

That trade was well and good because if some of the Bolts fans are still not aware of it, Mercado led the league in scoring and assists in the 2012-2013 Philippine Cup as part of Meralco. The back court tandem of Mercado and Macmac Cardona was also considered as one of the explosives and entertaining in the league.

However, not contented with having somebody reliable in scoring, the Bolts coaching staff and management used the old excuse of "team rebuilding" to trade the spitfire point-guard in January 2013. The team sent Mercado, Kelly Nabong, JP Belencion and benchwarmer Yousif Aljamal to GlobalPort in exchange for swingmen Rey Guevarra and Josh Vanlandingham, Vic Manuel and 2015 first round pick.

If the journey of Mercado in and out of the Bolts line-up was questionable, the move to release Gabby Espinas was a losing one. Espinas has been a solid contributor as a starting power forward for the Bolts in early 2012, but was shipped to the Alaska Aces for Jay-R Reyes.

In late 2013, Reyes was traded to Barangay Ginebra for Kerby Raymundo who was deemed unfit to play and may end up retiring soon. In short, Meralco got nothing from the Espinas trade except for a broken good and nothing to show for it except to reunite Gregorio with his old protégé at Purefoods.

The next deal may sound fair, but underneath the paper trail, it will become obvious that this is another blunder short of epic proportions. In August 2012, the team decided to give up their 2014 first round pick to the Elasto Painters in exchange for Ronjay Buenafe. The combination of Cardona, Mercado and Buenafe actually gave the Bolts all the right firepower to toast their opponents from both ends of the floor every night, not to mention the steady effort of Chris Ross, but this will be in another article.

Unfortunately, the Bolts have this penchant to destroy the chemistry of its players every year and this time it sent Buenafe and Gilbert Bulawan to the Barako Bull Energy Cola to acquire Jared Dillinger and seldom-used Don Alado. Dillinger is a good catch, but the Bolts could have used another player to get his services without destroying the harmony in their back court.

To make matters worst than before, the Bolts decided to let Cardona go to Air 21 Express together with Noy Baclao in exchange for the now missing-in-action Rabeh Al-Hussaini and veteran Nelbert Omolon. Al-Hussaini cannot even match half the numbers put up by Cardona and Omolon has been seldom used, no thanks to coach Gregorio. In short, the Bolts gave up on the solid production of their resident off-guard for a lost cause. What have they received from this trade, nothing.

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