Soyud deserves pool spot, say champion PBA coaches
Two decorated mentors are more than happy to provide clarity to those who are wondering what an unheralded player like Raul Soyud is doing in the Gilas Pilipinas training pool.
“He played well in the last conference, he was playing his role to the hilt. He was getting rebounds. And the best part of him is he’s not afraid to just mix it up,” champion Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) coach Ryan Gregorio, now the special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president, said in former PBA chief Noli Eala’s radio show, “Power and Play,” over the weekend.
“Those are the intangibles we considered, and hopefully those are the very things that will help him survive and earn a roster spot,” added Gregorio, who won titles with Purefoods and a Coach of the Year award in a colorful career.
“[Raul’s] rugged, physical play against opponents bigger than him will be valuable for Gilas, and he can hit the outside shot,” said Soyud’s NLEX coach, Yeng Guiao, in an interview published at the PBA website.
Gregorio and Guiao’s praises should quash any lingering doubts on whether the 30-year-old Soyud is a deserving addition to the 20-man pool from which the final Gilas lineup that will play Indonesia and South Korea in Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers’ third and final window this February will be selected.
If anything, Soyud was also a prime candidate for the Most Improved award for the 45th PBA season after averaging 10 points and 6.8 rebounds. His 74 percent shooting was the league’s best.
Soyud entered Gilas’ training camp inside a self-contained zone in Calamba, Laguna province, on Friday, joining fellow pros Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez, Justin Chua and program mainstays Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario.
“[Though] I’m really surprised with the accelerated improvement he had,” Guiao said of his 6-foot-6 bruiser, who was selected 31st overall by Blackwater in the PBA Rookie Draft back in 2014.
“We are not looking at the best players in our country. What we’re looking for are players who fit in the best,” Gregorio said.
“And as far as coaches are concerned, there are specific roles that each player must play in order for us to be successful,” he added.
Saldaña needs help
Terry Saldaña, the efficient low-post operator for Toyota, Ginebra San Miguel and later on Pop Cola/Swift in the PBA for close to two decades starting in the 1980s, is in dire need of help.
A photograph of Saldaña made rounds on social media early on Sunday showing the former pro with gangrenous legs.
Saldaña, now 67, is reportedly at Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Hospital in Calamba, Laguna, with a kidney problem and possible diabetes.
Saldaña was a member of the 1979 champion Letran Squires in the National Collegiate Athletic Association before making the big leap to Apcor in Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association the following year, playing for the Philippine team and then entering PBA with the Tamaraws. INQ