By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – The presence of new players in their roster, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel guard Mark Caguioa says, will ease the pressure off him and the other veterans when the 38th PBA season starts Sept. 30 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings got premiere point guard LA Tenorio in a trade with Alaska, as well as rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen from the PBA draft, with the addition of Tenorio expected to boost the team’s campaign in the Philippine Cup.
Since the trade, however, the 5-foot-8 Tenorio, the MVP in the recent Jones Cup, has only joined Ginebra’s practice sessions a few times and had to leave for Tokyo a week ago to join Smart-Gilas Pilipinas II in the FIBA Asia Cup.
“Of course, adjustment is always a concern. But LA is a great player, he’ll fit in quickly with the team,” Caguioa said during yesterday’s launching of the team’s uniform held at the Araneta Gateway Suites in Cubao, Quezon City.
“We’re very excited with our new jersey, and we’re looking forward to winning the championship,” added Caguioa.
The reigning PBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) cited as example the semifinals of the season-ending Governors’ Cup when San Mig Coffee (formerly B-Meg) played tough defense on him as Ginebra failed to advance to the Finals.
“In the past, I was always the target, B-Meg has doubled, or sometimes triple-teamed me. This time, there are a lot of players that they have to defense. They have to be worried with the other guys as well now,” added Caguioa.
Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen, on the other hand, isn’t worried about the adjustment part.
“Great players figure ways to fit in, and I don’t see a problem with that. LA is a great player, and we know he’ll find his way to fit in to our system. It’s also our job as coaches to make it easy for him,” said Tanquingcen.
With veteran forward Eric Menk likely to be stricken off the team, Ginebra will be one of the smallest teams with only 6-foot-5 Billy Mamaril as the legitimate center; but it loaded with talent at the small and power forward positions.
Aside from Ellis and Jensen, the other forwards of Ginebra include Rudy Hatfield, Kerby Raymundo, Willie Wilson, Rico Maierhofer, Dylan Ababou, and new addition Elmer Espiritu, while joining Caguioa and Tenorio at the backcourt are Jayjay Helterbrand, Mike Cortez and Rob Labagala.
“It’s a handicap (not having a true center), but we don’t see that as a problem. We’ll play with our strength which is quickness. We’ll use that to our advantage. It’s a run-and-gun team like before,” said Tanquingcen, who will have as assistant coaches Allan Caidic, Alfrancis Chua, Art dela Cruz, Freddie Abuda and Juno Sauler, while Samboy Lim remains as team manager.
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