TERRAFIRMA may have let go of a prized player, but looks to have found new gems that should make the Dyip more competitive in the coming PBA season.
That’s what Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel believes after seeing first round draft picks Joshua Munzon and James Laput take part in the team’s small group practices yesterday.
“Konting conditioning, pace kinukuha na,” related Cardel. “Inilalatag na namin mga sistema namin sa kanila in these practices and mukhang madali naman nilang makukuha.”
Munzon, a 6-foot-4 guard out of Cal State-LA and a certified star in the 3×3 circuit, was made the top pick overall by the Dyip in last Sunday’s draft and is expected to fill the void created when two-time scoring champion CJ Perez was traded to San Miguel Beer last month.
Cardel believes the 26-year-old would step nicely into Perez’s shoes.
“Parang di nawala si CJ,” said Cardel. “Kasi iyung laro n’ya, meron siyang outside shooting, three-point shooting, perimeter, he can cut to the basket, tulad ng ginagawa ni CJ. He can also defend. Kumpleto.”
While Munzon seems to be the real deal, the Terrafirma jury is still out on Laput, a 6-foot-9 Fil-Australian who was made the No. 8 pick overall.
“Ang laking mama, parang (June Mar) Fajardo ang dumating,” Cardel said of the 24-year-old, who had limited exposure while with La Salle in Season 82 of the UAAP and is known more for 3×3 action.
“More skills training pa rin kasi siyempre bata pa, project talaga. Pero eto ‘yung project na madaling turuan,” added Cardel. “In a span of one month maiibigay lang namin kung ano gagawin n’ya, may ipambabangga na kami sa malalaki nila.”
It’s not just on Munzon, Laput and last year’s top overall pick Roosevelt Adams Cardel is pinning his hopes on.
Aside from the No. 8 pick in the draft, the Perez trade brought in Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Gelo Alolino and Russell Escoto from SMB.
Although Escoto is doubtful to play in the early stages of the coming season, tentatively set to start April 11, due to a recent shoulder operation, Cardel believes Ganuelas-Rosser and Alolino would be able to immediately help the Dyip burst out of their perennial doormat spot.
“Lumawak bench ko. Roose (Adams) nandiyan naman pati Rashawn (McCarthy) kaya malalaki mga players ko ngayon, 1-2-3-4 malalaki. Mahahaba kami ngayon, mas kumpleto and more competitive” said Cardel.
“Pag makita n’yo si Matt ngayon malaki inimprove. Pati si Gelo gustong-gustong maglaro,” added Cardel.
“Sabi ko lang naman sa kanila, know the system, follow the system, display teamwork and talagang makakalaro sila.”