New champ Petron eyes PBA All-Filipino crown next
MANILA—Two days after claiming his first PBA title, Petron Blaze rookie coach Ato Agustin is already looking ahead to the next season as he tries to steer the Boosters for more glory in the season-opening All-Filipino Cup.
And this early, Agustin already knows what his shorthanded team needs.
“We need a shooter on the No. 2 spot and another big man,” Agustin said Tuesday at the PSA Forum at Shakey’s U.N. Avenue in Manila.
Despite missing four players to injuries, Petron showed steely resolve to upset Talk ‘N Text, 4-3, in the season-ending Governor’s Cup title series and derail the Tropang Texters’ bid to secure the fifth grand slam in league history.
With key cogs like Jay Washington and Rabeh Al-Hussaini still sidelined by injuries and Barako Bull players like Jojo Duncil, Lordy Tugade and Paolo Hubalde expected to return to their team next season, the Boosters have only 10 players on their roster.
That’s why Agustin is taking a long and hard look at the applicants of this year’s PBA Draft scheduled on Sunday at the Robinsons Mall in Manila.
The Boosters own the eighth and 18th pick in the draft and Agustin fears that by the time they get their turn, most of the standouts like JV Casio, Paul Lee and Dylan Ababou as well as big man Jason Ballesteros have been taken.
“We really need replacements,” said Agustin, who attended the weekly forum sponsored by Smart, Outlast Battery, Pagcor and Accel together with import Anthony Grundy, Finals Most Valuable Player Arwind Santos and guard Dennis Miranda.
Agustin said Danny Ildefonso is keen on extending his stay with the Boosters, although the coach said he has no idea of the length of the contract extension the two-time MVP wants.
The Petron mentor also hopes to keep ace shooter Sunday Salvacion, whose contract has also expired.
Ildefonso was a revelation in the finals series against Talk ‘N Text, hitting the game-winning basket in Game 1, while holding his own against a more athletic and younger Tropang Texters frontline.
“The victory (in the finals) is sweet because people we’re doubting us because of the injuries,” said Miranda.
Santos feels that with the way the team has been playing, more titles could be on the horizon.
“The hunger should still be there,” Santos added.
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