Over the weekend, Alaska coach Alex Compton quashed the near impossible, yet very dreadful-to-think-of trade that will see Calvin Abueva wear a different shade of red and white in the coming Governors’ Cup conference.
The rumor was sparked as all unfounded tales do, by an edited image that went viral in the sleep-deprived, fake-news-hungry, horny-people-filled social media platform we fondly call Facebook (so much for connecting the world, Mr. Zuckerberg!). The image was of Abueva donning the Ginebra Kings uniform, and the post instigated hundreds of trade scenarios ranging from senseless, to even more what-the-f-are-you-smoking kinds of suggestions.
Compton, who has been coaching the Aces since 2014, told Sports Interactive Network (SPIN.PH) that any possible trade that includes Abueva is not a thought. “It’s news to me. I haven’t heard anything,” said Compton. “I haven’t heard from Fred, from Calvin, from me, or any other teams.” The former MBA MVP even joked that they will trade away their star player only if NBA stars LeBron James or Kevin Durant was involved. “I never even thought about that. If somebody was offering LeBron or KD and they’re half-Filipino then maybe will talk. But it’s just… it’s not a thought.”
Don’t get me wrong, Abueva is a fantastic player, and any team will be lucky to have him. But the trades that others are suggesting are just plain dumb and not even fun to think about. When I put more thought into the rumor, Alaska did trade away cornerstones in the past, so it scared me a little bit that this Abueva rumor might have some truth into it.
In 1998, Alaska traded then-25-year-old Jeff Cariaso to Mobiline (Talk N’ Text for Millennials) a season after averaging 18.7 points on 43% shooting.
In 2003, Alaska traded a 29-year-old, still-in-his-effing-prime Kenneth Duremdes to Sta. Lucia for a future first round pick that turned out to be Brandon Cablay. Think about that. They gave up Duremdes, the player with enough swag to be called Captain Marbel, and enough skill to be one of PBA’s 40 greatest players. (If you’re too young to know who is Duremdes, read this).
More recently, the Aces sent a 28-year-old LA Tenorio, who was then fresh from an MVP-winning performance in the 2012 William Jones Cup, to Ginebra in 2012. The mega-trade saw Alaska get a Gilas youngster in JV Casio and a 2015 second-rounder from the Kings, which later became Marion Magat. It seemed to be an even trade since both Alaska and Ginebra won one championship each since, but Tenorio is the league’s Ironman and the Kings’ coach on the floor, while Casio has been missing games left and right because of recurring injuries despite being four years younger than LA.
So yes, Alaska might consider pulling off the trade, and the Kings might consider agreeing to it since they have done it in the past. But I still don’t think it will help both teams, especially the trades being suggested by fans.
One trade suggestion was that Abueva joins the Kings in exchange for the struggling but still very young guard Kevin Ferrer, a trade that is murky across all dimensions. First of all, Kevin Ferrer is drafted from the Gilas cadet pool, and those players cannot be traded for two seasons, except for another Gilas cadet member. For those asking, Alaska’s Gilas cadet draftee was Carl Bryan Cruz.
Second, giving up a potential shooter in Ferrer for a streaky shooter in Abueva will be bad for the Kings, since the shooting has been their glaring weakness ever since Tim Cone arrived. The Aces also currently have a glut of wingmen in Chris Banchero, Kevin Racal, Cruz and Don Don Hontiveros, all of which fit better to Alaska’s philosophies than Ferrer.
Another trade suggestion said that the Kings should get Abueva in exchange for athletic wingman Chris Ellis and rookie big man Jammer Jamito. I can see why the Kings will do this trade because this will be next great act of trickery since Commissioner Chito Salud’s Wowowee lottery of the 2014 PBA draft.
Imagine getting a really versatile forward in Abueva while only losing Ellis and Jamito. No offense, but the uber-athletic Ellis is just that, uber-athletic. And Jamito, while being a third pick in the 2016 regular draft, is more known for his side-step dunk in the PBA Slam Dunk contest than any of his minutes in a competitive game. Ellis has seen his minutes decrease throughout his career because his shooting percentages have not climbed in any of the seasons, and Jamito grabbed five rebounds in 73 minutes in five games in elimination games, not enough to unseat big men in Cone’s lineups.
The Kings will easily nod along with this trade, but Alaska will have to be drunk on some concoction of GSM Blue, San Mig Zero and a pinch of Star Margarine (ewww) to agree to this deal. Abueva is the Draymond Green of the PBA, a do-it-all forward that is vital to Alaska’s success because he can play four positions and can make plays on and off the ball, although he is also detrimental because of his own acts of abrasiveness and immaturity. And he can be a sore loser at times. NGANGA!
But the most revolting trade idea, as a Kings fan, was the one-for-one exchange between Abueva and Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson.
Again, Abueva is a great player, but giving up Thompson is too steep a price. Ginebra’s super sophomore might not be as versatile as Abueva right now, but he has already been baptized as the Kings’ next homegrown great guard after Mark Caguioa and JayJay Helterbrand. In 22 elimination games in the last two conferences, the 23-year-old averaged just 8.2 points on 42.6% shooting, but he grabbed an abnormal 9.0 rebounds per game and dished out 5.0 assists per match as the Kings’ tertiary playmaker (JDV follows LA in the playmaking pole). He also has an undying motor, a predatory instinct on fighting for the ball, and he displayed some clutch gene when Ginebra dispatched the San Miguel Beermen in Game 5 of the 2016 Governors’ Cup semi-final.
While Cone will find ways to fit Abueva into the Triangle, the Kings will certainly miss the guard play that Thompson can bring. At just 23, he has enough time to improve his scoring, and under Cone’s tutelage his playmaking will only get better, just ask the army of guards that improved their overall basketball knowledge because of the teachings from PBA’s winningest coach. And being the sidekick to Tenorio really helps too!
Even from a commercial standpoint, Ginebra’s officials anointed him as the next Jaworski with a limited special classic jersey last conference. And Abueva is also Alaska’s number one brand promoter, with that very nice (and slightly, slightly racist) recreation of the 1980s’ classic commercial of a kid playing with an Ace.
Again, the rumors scare me a bit, since Alaska did give up cornerstones in the past, and it is even scarier when you think that Cone was the coach of the Aces when they gave away their supposed franchise players. But teams trade players to improve, and if that one-on-one deal happens, both parties will lose. Alaska gives up the foundation of their current lineup, while Ginebra mortgages its future. So why do the trade? Besides, most Ginebra fans get a kick whenever one of our players or our coaches get to make that stupid nganga gesture to spite the Beast.
So, no thanks!
– Roland Quilente
Stats from HumbleBola