Air21 gets frontcourt help as PBA approves Enrico Villanueva trade
MANILA, Philippines — After addressing its needs at the point guard and forward spots, Air21 added another piece with the acquisition of veteran center Enrico Villanueva.
The PBA Tuesday approved the deal that sent Villanueva to Globalport for Carlo Sharma and Ronnie Matias.
“I’ve been eyeing him (Villanueva) since the last conference. After Asi (Taulava), we don’t really have a solid big guy, somebody who can adapt to the physicality in the PBA,” Air21 coach Franz Pumaren said following his team’s 78-88 loss to Alaska Monday night. “He gives us additional depth in our big guys.”
“We’re looking at using him in the third conference. He’s still doing his rehab and we’re looking at preparing him for the next conference.”
The 33-year-old Villanueva gives the Express a solid rebounder and an inside presence on both ends with his size.
Air21 has been active in trying to find the right mix to its roster. Just recently, the Express traded bluecollar worker Vic Manuel to the Aces for stretch forward Aldrech Ramos.
During the offseason, Air21 got playmaker and former Finals MVP Jonas Villanueva in a four-team deal.
Batang Pier head coach Pido Jarencio will be looking for the former Rain or Shine contributor Matias as backup to Jay Washington at the three-spot.
The former Ateneo Blue Eagle Villanueva was selected seventh overall in the 2003 Draft. Villanueva may have his best years behind him after injuries slowed him down. He was named Best Player of the Conference once as a member of Red Bull during the 2005-06 season.
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