SLR Eyeing 6-11 US NCAA Veteran

On: 10 March 2008

PBA Fiesta Cup

By Eddie G. Alinea
Manila Times, 08 March 2008

Newly-crowned Philippine Cup champion Sta. Lucia Realty is eyeing a 6-foot-11 veteran of the US NCAA who is now playing in Europe as reinforcement in the hope of winning its first back-to-back championship this season.

Coach Boyet Fernandez said on Friday that team manager Buddy Encarnado is currently negotiating for the acquisition of an import, who, he added, is what the Realtors need to beef up their lineup in the coming Fiesta Cup.

He declined to name though his and the management’s choice; he only said that the one they are eyeing can be what the “doctor prescribes” if the Realtors wish to become the only fourth team to sweep a season in the 33-year history of the country’s first and only professional league.

“Huwag na muna nating banggitin kung sino at anong klaseng player ang kinakausap natin, baka masulot pa. Lahat naman ng team ang pangarap maka-grand slam and we are not an exception” he said rather jestingly during the SCOOP forum at the Kamayan Restaurant along Padre Faura.

“For winning our first All-Filipino crown, we are the only team capable of completing a sort of a grand slam, kaya ayaw ko naman mabulilyaso ang tsansa namin,” added Fernandez, who was accompanied by assistant team manager team manager Ariel Magno, assistant coaches Adonis Tierra and Cholo Martin.

Also present in the session sponsored by Accel are team captain and Finals MVP Dennis Espino, Marlou Aquino, Paolo Mendoza, Denok Miranda, Joseph Yeo, Bitoy Omolon, Norman Gonzales, Dennis Daa and Melvin Mamaclay. Fil-Americans Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes had already flown to the U.S. to reunite with their respective families.

Fernandez, himself a former Realtor before succeeding former head mentor Alfrancis Chua, said the management is considering three candidates—one a 6-10 giant and the other 6-9, but it is the 6-11 NCAA veteran who is the first option.

“We believe he is what we need, especially in hauling down those rebounds to ease the load from Dennis [Espino], Marlou [Aquino] and Kelly [Williams],” he reasoned out.

Fernandez is expecting his import to arrive before the start of the team’s practice on March 24.

Except for Espino, Aquino and Mendoza, the rest of the Realtors had just tasted their first PBA championship, although Yeo and Miranda, at one time or another, were members of the UAAP champions De La Salle University and Far Eastern University, respectively. Same with Coronel, who came from multi-titled San Sebastian College in the NCAA.

Magno said the management, headed by sportsman Exequiel Robles, is very happy ending their long seven-year championship drought, adding though that whatever incentives in store for team members and the coaching staff has yet to be announced.

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