What Now?

On: 28 January 2010

Mendoza, Espinas and Pacana

After being eliminated from contention in the on-going PBA 2009 Philippine Cup, what is the next move of the Sta. Lucia Realtors?

Definitely the management will be busy this early in scouting for a more dynamic (Anthony Johnson) and less volatile (Lee Benson) import to fortify their lean frontline, but what else is expected from the team?

Multiple fan sources are requesting the management to be effectively involved in the bidding and acquisition of another big man to replace the slot vacated by the departure of Dennis Espino since it was clear as daylight that Gabby Espinas was more of a power-forward than a center and Kelly Williams is more effective coming from the wings to the shaded lane.

However, there are questions for the SLR to answer before these thing can materialize: Would they be willing to part with the personnel – including possibly Nelbert 'Bitoy' Omolon – to make a deal happen?

Do the Realtors have the resources to sign any quality bigman that could swell their payroll, such as Jay-R Reyes or Samigue Iman?

Do they even believe that there are some untapped talents in the league waiting for a chance to become the big difference for the team?

All questions with no clear answers for the Realtors – yet.

Nevertheless, the possibility of an athletic, offensive force has become too irresistible to easily dismiss. The Realtors were given two chances to advance into the quarterfinals, but in both games they blew it big because Marlou Aquino is not consistent enough and some of their guards were simply outplayed by their counterparts.

The import-laden conference may be months away, but there should be a sense of urgency at the head office. The Realtors need a young, athletic frontcourt complement for an aging Aquino. Despite taking a significant payroll cut by acquiring cheaper players (Jason Misolas and Chris Pacana) from the other teams, it's become clearer to the Realtors that their frontline is still ill-equipped to overthrow the likes of the San Miguel Beermen, Talk N' Text Phone Pals and Alaska Aces.

Coach Boyet Fernandez seemed to have maintained an interest in Barako Bull's Leo Najorda and Ginebra's reserve player, Homer Se. However, the management has yet to show a strong inclination to acquire these players before the next conference.

As painful as it would be for the franchise and fans, the Realtors could try to part with Omolon and his expiring contract to make a package work. What about burgeoning young center Rob Reyes?

Many league executives wonder, too: Would the Realtors be adverse to trading Omolon to a team they most often encounter at the bottom half of the standings? Perhaps, but they should understand that the market for Omolon is somewhat limited because so many teams already have resident personnel in the same position. But maybe the offer could become more palatable if they include Pacana, Paolo Mendoza, Ardy Larong and Charles Waters in the mix.

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