11 August 2015

Buzz Around the League Before the 2015 Rookie Draft

PBA Trade Buzz
With the PBA Rookie Draft still a few days away, there's little league-related news or rumors for fans to cling to in these relative sports-barren dog days.

While many of the league's players are relaxing or prepping on their own for the upcoming season—or participating in ultra-cool national team practices and games, team managers and owners are still hard at work, trying hard to finalize the rosters before training camp in September.

The equilibrium dust has yet to be stirred with the coming draft, marquee signings and trades, but there are still players to be had and signatures to be inked. Here's a rundown of some of the latest rumors from around the league.

Calvin Abueva
Abueva averaged 12.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game during the 2014-2015 season and is only 27 years old, so why was he rumored to be in the trading block?

That question perpetrated after it was reported by several media sources that Alaska is exploring options on possible deals involving 'The Beast' after a season capped by a runner-up finish in the PBA Governors Cup.

A few months ago, Abueva has signed a three-year, PhP 15.1-million contract with Alaska and has been a force for the team all season, earning a place in the year-end Mythical Second Team.

The rumor was further fueled when a high-ranking San Miguel official confirmed getting feelers for an Abueva trade. The trade was snubbed by the management after the Aces sought either Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar or Ian Sangalang in return.

Any reports was temporarily quelled after Aces coach Alex Compton publicly denied that such a trade is being cooked and assured Abueva that they will not deal him to the other teams. Problem is that the Aces were known to always deny the trades before until it has been consummated.

Mahindra's Second Pick
After wrapping up its first season in the PBA, Kia Carnival is switching its team name to Mahindra Enforcers, team manager Eric Pineda confirmed last 15 July. Together with the name change, the team is looking to strengthen its roster through the 2015 Rookie Draft with its second overall pick, which they intend on using to gain a center or forward for its thin frontline, assistant coach Chito Victolero told reporters.

If the intention is to upgrade, the Manny Pacquiao-coached team should keep their pick, which could turn out to be the promising power-forward Troy Rosario. However, rumors around the league indicates that Talk N' Text Tropang Texters is moving heaven and earth to snare that second first-round pick.

Given the questionable and dubious way they acquired the first pick from Blackwater Elites, nobody doubts that the Texters will try anything to get what they want even at the expense of sacrificing the integrity of the league.

Rumors revealed that it will be a three-team deal that will also involve the Texters sister team NLEX Road Warriors.

Under the working terms of the deal, the Texters will get the second pick overall from Mahindra Enforcers in exchange for point-guard Kevin Alas, also the second overall pick last year, who will then be shipped to NLEX for sweet-shooting forward Aldrech Ramos and a still-to-be-agreed player.

The Mahindra Enforcers was also rumored to be asking for veteran guard and former Finals MVP Jonas Villanueva to be included in the package in a deal that had been going back and forth since July 2015.

Alex Mallari
After coach Tim Cone was moved from Star Hotshots to sister team Ginebra San Miguel, speculations immediately spread that the PBA's winningest coach will bring Alex Mallari with him.

Cone has always liked tall guards who play well in the triangle offense just like Chicago Bulls’ Scottie Pippen. Mallari’s a 6-foot-4 guard who can do triangle offense.

When told about the rumors, Mallari acknowledges Cone's preference but admits being incomparable to Pippen’s superb skills.

"He (Cone) likes tall guards. He's always been a triangle guy. Ever since the Chicago Bulls days, he likes Scottie Pippen, ‘cause he can play all five positions, he can guard one to four," Mallari said to reporters.

"I think growing up watching the Bulls, he was always for a guy like that. I think I kinda fit the mold. He molded me to be like that and had some success, we have won many games and I appreciate that," he added. "I am not even close to Scottie Pippen, don’t get me wrong."

Finishing strong in the recently-concluded PBA season, Mallari has averaged 10.62 points, four rebounds, and three assists so it’s no surprise for Cone to consider him as one of his favorite players and for Ginebra to include him in their team.

Dorian Peña
After acquiring Joseph Yeo and Doug Kramer, GlobalPort Batang Pier is reportedly keen in further improving its bench. One of those eyed to give the team more depth is 37-year old veteran Dorian Peña.

In a bid to improve on its best-ever Top 4 finish in the last Governors' Cup eliminations, GlobalPort was reportedly willing to send the hard-banging Jewel Ponferrada to Barangay Ginebra in exchange for Peña. Ponferrada was rumored to be on the radar of Ginebra management because he fits the need for a versatile big man in new coach Tim Cone's triangle offense.

Peña, on the other hand, is expected to add muscle to a lean Batang Pier frontcourt who only have the bruiser Kramer to protect the rim.

None of the players involved in this trade are part of the regular rotation. It will be interesting to see who contributes most to their new ball clubs.

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