Ditching old tag
Terrafirma’s off-season gambit, paired with the tabbing of Joshua Munzon as the top pick in Sunday’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Draft, should herald a new era for the perennial league doormats.
At least that’s what the Dyip’s coach believes,
“I think we’re a complete team now, ready to compete in the upcoming season,” Johnedel Cardel told the Inquirer in Filipino, just hours after selecting Munzon first overall from a pool described by many as the deepest the league has seen in years. Cardel was quick to point out why he feels that way.
“Even though we lost CJ (Perez), through Joshua, we get to fill that guard position,” he said. “Plus, we also now have a big man in James (Laput).”
Cardel’s optimism stems not only from the fact that Munzon already had plenty of international experience, but also from something he saw firsthand.
“When he joined our group practices last Friday, I thought to myself, it’s like CJ never really left our team,” he said. “It won’t be hard teaching that fellow.”Sure, Cardel knew all the chatter around Laput, but just like Munzon, seeing the Fil-Aussie big man up close was all he needed to be proven otherwise.
“People were saying he’s soft. But after his workout with us, I started wishing he was still available when we get our second turn at No. 8,” he said.
“Whatever they say, that’s still a 6-foot-10 guy with a wide body. And he’s young. He’s going to become so much more,” he added. Terrafirma managed to land two picks in the first round of the draft by dealing Perez to San Miguel Beer in February. In that swap, the Dyip managed to acquire Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Russell Escoto, Gelo Alolino, along with a first-round pick in 2022.
That bunch should enable Cardel to field an extremely athletic and towering starting unit that would feature Munzon, Laput, Ganuelas-Rosser, skipper Rashawn McCarthy and last year’s Outstanding Rookie finalist, Roosevelt Adams.
No playoff guarantees
“I think I have quite the lineup this time. One through five, they’re all big. And Roosevelt can now play his natural position,” he said.
Cardel pointed out that he could also bank heavily on his veterans—Aldrech Ramos and Eric Camson—when push comes to shove.
But don’t get him wrong. Cardel is in no way saying he’s assembled a playoff team.
“I’m not saying we’re guaranteed of a playoff spot,” he said. “What I’m saying is I’m confident we’re going to be better—especially against bigger teams.”
The Terrafirma franchise was only able to make the quarterfinal round once since entering the PBA as an expansion team in 2014. They came close in a couple of tournaments two years ago with Perez as their foremost weapon.
The Dyip finished last during the 2020 Philippine Cup bubble games in Clark Freeport, winning only one of their 11 assignments.
If anything, that is the farthest thing from Cardel’s mind. With the hunt for pieces done, he is just glad he has one worry struck from his list.
“I guess what’s left to worry about now is the familiarity among the players. It’s hard nowadays because we still have restrictions to follow. We’ll do our best to get everyone up to speed with the system,” he said.
“I’m optimistic that we could get it done just in time before the April (11) opening.” INQ