From a team that was faced with roster uncertainty, TNT has suddenly found itself a solid favorite for the PBA Philippine Cup crown.
The KaTropa completed two major deals late on Monday and suddenly find themselves with the possibility of fielding a Gilas Pilipinas starting unit.
TNT is awaiting confirmation from the Commissioner’s Office on its acquisition of Poy Erram via a three-team swap with NLEX and Blackwater even as it announced finally signing Ray Parks Jr. to a one-year deal.
“[These] will definitely be a big help for TNT,” TNT coach Bong Ravena told the Inquirer on Tuesday.
If the Commissioner’s Office approves the Erram deal, TNT will be able to field a unit that includes the former NLEX starting center, Troy Rosario, Parks, RR Pogoy and Jayson Castro—all regulars of the national team.
To land Erram, one of the league’s best defensive players who has developed a habit of chucking shots from beyond the arc, TNT mailed Marion Magat to Blackwater and a first-round draft pick for another first-round choice. The Elite dealt away two future picks in a package that includes sending Anthony Semerad to the Road Warriors.
Blackwater will get guard Ed Daquioag and a first-round pick for its role as conduit in the sister-team swap.
While the proposal has yet to receive the PBA’s green light, NLEX has already issued an official statement on Monday night, saying it “recognizes Poy’s contributions towards our team’s growth in 2019.”
While TNT may have pulled off a coup with the deal, Ravena wants to maintain a tempered optimism as the KaTropa prepare to take on the mantle of favorites in the Philippine Cup.
“Our mind-set should remain that there is no weak team [in the league],” he said. “The task is to get as many wins as we can in the eliminations.”
“And then we move to the next.”
Erram’s return to the team that drafted him in 2013 gives the powerhouse squad a legitimate big man who can control the boards and provide legitimate rim protection—the importance of which has suddenly inflated in a conference where two other favored teams lost key bigs.
Defending champion San Miguel Beer, which is eyeing a sixth straight all-Filipino conquest, will be without June Mar Fajardo, who is expected to miss a bulk of the season because of a broken shin.
Recent Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra, meanwhile, has said it is gunning for the Philippine Cup crown but is having its own problems with big man Greg Slaughter, who has opted to take a breather from basketball instead of signing an extension with the Gin Kings. INQ
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