GETTING a proven quality player like Calvin Abueva was an opportunity too good to pass up on. That was how Magnolia described the major trade with Phoenix Super LPG approved yesterday by the PBA.
Under the terms of the deal agreed to by both parties and forwarded to the PBA for approval last Tuesday afternoon, the Hotshots acquire Abueva from the Fuel Masters in exchange for guard Chris Banchero.
As part of the deal, Phoenix and Magnolia also swapped their first round picks in next month’s rookie draft, with the Fuel Masters now picking at No. 6 overall and the Hotshots tabbing at No. 10. Magnolia also threw in its No. 18 pick overall.
This year’s draft class, which has a record 97 applicants, is widely considered as the deepest in years, with Magnolia and Phoenix expected to get players who could make immediate impacts.
Not like Abueva and Banchero, however.
“Wala ka namang makukuhang ganu’ng players sa draft. Kahit na ikut-ikutin mo ang 97 draft applicants walang ganu’ng proven quality players,” noted Rene Pardo, Magnolia’s long-time representative to the PBA Board.
“Merong magagaling sa college, sa amateur teams na pinaglaruan nila, pero pagpanhik sa PBA nahihirapang mag-adjust,” added the former PBA chairman. “Eto parehong napakahusay.”
More so Abueva, who returned from an 18-month suspension to help Phoenix realize a first semifinals stint in the last Philippine Cup, hurdling Magnolia in the quarterfinals.
“He will bring the energy at saka bagay na bagay sa amin. Mabilis tumakbo, malakas sa rebound, Iyon ang kailangan namin,” said Pardo. “Small forward, power forward lalaruin niya and definitely lalakas ang frontcourt namin.”
Hotshots coach Chito Victolero also welcomed Abueva’s arrival, saying: “Very excited ako kasi he can play multiple positions and ‘yung posisyon na kulang, 3, 4, big man na puwede kong gawing small, iyun ang ma-a-add ni Calvin. So I think he can play the 2, 3, 4 positions.
“So magiging versatile ang team ko. We can play small, we can play big. He adds more energy sa practice and at the same time sa game. He adds more competition because we all know kung paano siya mag-compete,” added Victolero. “He raises the bar sa practice at real game.”
Pardo and Victolero also thanked Banchero, who was acquired from Alaska in November 2019 and gave added punch to Magnolia’s backcourt that already has Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon and Justin Melton.
The 32-year-old Fil-Italian now hopes to do the same in a Phoenix backcourt that has Matthew Wright, RJ Jazul, RR Garcia, Alex Mallari, Brian Heruela and Mike Gamboa.
Fuel Masters coach Topex Robinson had previously said he is looking for an additional shooting guard like Wright and Jazul.
“’Yung posisyon na hinahanap nila makukuha nila kay Chris, ganu’n din sa amin kay Calvin kaya tingin ko dito win-win situation for both parties,” said Victolero.
“Wala ka rin namang puwedeng i-question kay Chris. The attitude, the work ethic, the game. Talagang nandoon naman.”