TNT acquires rising star Oftana from NLEX in deal
Blackwater reneged on a promise to make Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser the centerpiece of its plans to launder its franchise image, dealing the blue-chip big man on Wednesday to serve as the lynchpin of a swap between sister teams TNT and NLEX.
Blackwater’s reward for its efforts? The Bossing acquired national team mainstay Troy Rosario in the six-player, three-team deal that bolstered the rosters of the Tropang Giga and the Road Warriors.
TNT, which also lost Gab Banal along with Rosario in the trade, acquired promising forward Calvin Oftana and serviceable big Raoul Soyud from NLEX. The Road Warriors, on the other hand, will welcome to their fold Paul Desiderio and Rosser, who was supposed to spearhead Blackwater’s charge toward respectability.
“We are not trading him,” Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia told the Inquirer last May as he announced plans to build a winning squad around the talented big man, who the franchise picked first overall in this year’s Draft. “Brandon gives us a rim protector; he’s a good shot blocker and rebounder. [He] can score inside [and] out and plays with a lot of heart.”
That’s what NLEX will be getting in exchange for Oftana, who averaged 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 14 games for the Road Warriors last conference.
Oftana’s inclusion in the deal fueled speculations that the trade is what drove Yeng Guiao away from NLEX. The fiery mentor quelled those rumors.
“I wasn’t aware that they were cooking that deal before I left,” said Guiao, who maintained that he left because he was offered a corporate, not a coaching, post with NLEX. “Of course, I had been hearing rumors already [that Oftana was going to be traded] but I always gave the team a benefit of the doubt.”
Asked how he would have reacted had the trade been consummated while he was still NLEX coach, Guiao said: “I had never hid my sentiments before when [trades like that] happened. Even with all the talk I had been hearing about Calvin, I always hoped he wouldn’t be traded.”
Oftana, who played for coach Chot Reyes with the national team, is the latest key NLEX player to be dealt to TNT. The Road Warriors first sent center Poy Erram to their sister team before the start of the shortened 45th season in February 2020.
NLEX also traded its rights to pick fourth in the 2021 Rookie Draft that paved the way for TNT to select scoring guard Mikey Williams.
Guiao, then the coach of NLEX, admitted with a hint of disappointment in his voice that both deals were “beyond his control.”
Rosario averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and 1.8 blocks in the elimination round last conference but struggled in the championship series against San Miguel Beer. He will get a chance to assert his offense more with Blackwater, where he will play alongside Ato Ular, the second-round draft pick who made waves in the Philippine Cup and will now play a bigger role with Rosser’s departure.
Rosser, on the other hand, averaged 11 points and three rebounds a game for the Bossing as he struggled to find his groove following a hand injury that delayed his debut in the pro ranks.
The Inquirer reached out to Vanguardia to ask why he walked back on his statements that Rosser would not be traded but the coach has yet to reply as of press time.
The three-team swap has yet to be approved by the league’s trade committee. The Inquirer left a message to the league office, but has yet to receive a reply at press time.
Guiao is back with Rain or Shine and, interestingly, will coach his first game with the Elasto Painters on Sept. 23—against NLEX.
“That’s going to be a good game,” he said.