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PBA: Blockbuster Trade

Japeth, Washington In Center Of Deal
By Tito S. Talao

SINGAPORE – A blockbuster multi-player, multi-team trade deal, bigger and more star-studded than the one completed a little over a week ago involving five ballclubs and 10 players, is getting hatched by PBA governors.

While many of the critical details in the ongoing negotiations remain under wraps, with league officials led by PBA commissioner Chito Salud and board chairman Robert Non of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel all non-committal, important bits and pieces of the multi-tiered proposal have nonetheless surfaced.

The PBA board is in Singapore to continue discussions on finding ways to provide maximum assistance to the national team seeing action in the 27th FIBA Asian Championship

Directly to be part of the scheme, according to a PBA insider, would be Globalport, Ginebra, Barako Bull, Air21, Petron, Talk ‘N Text and Meralco, with 6-foot-10 center Japeth Aguilar, whose contract with the Tropang Texters has expired, standing at the center of the looming traffic.

If plans don’t miscarry, and depending on the approval of the Commissioner’s Office, Aguilar, who is still in the States after unsuccessfully trying out for a slot in different NBA D-League teams, could go to Ginebra for veteran Kerby Raymundo.

Meralco’s Sol Mercado could wind up with Barako Bull, while Globalport’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini appears to be on his way to Talk ‘N Text in a reunion with former Ateneo coach Norman Black.

More players are involved, but the biggest name could be Petron’s Jay Washington, who is about to be shipped, a team official said, to Globalport for a still unknown player plus future draft picks.

The Batang Pier, who joined the PBA this season after the sale of the Coca-Cola-Powerade franchise, could end up with an ultra-explosive starting lineup in the Commissioner’s Cup with Gary David, Willie Miller, Washington, Mercado, and an import of unlimited height.

“Di ko lang alam how coach Junel Baculi will handle these players,” said one former league chairman.

The buzz among PBA governors at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel wasn’t confined, however, to the complicated trade deal which has team officials Ely Capacio of Petron, Manny Alvarez of Barako Bull, Lito Alvarez of Air21, Patrick Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska, Mert Mondragon of Rain or Shine, Rene Pardo of San Mig Coffee, vice chairman Ramon Segismundo of Meralco, and Erick Arejola of Globalport in frequent isolated talks, mostly one-on-one.

Also a hot topic was a proposal put on the table for the PBA to reschedule the third conference, called the Governors Cup, to after the FIBA Asian Championship set Aug. 1-13 to allow national coach Chot Reyes full access to the players of his choice right after the second conference, the Commissioner’s Cup, which kicks off Feb. 8.

The PBA governors had earlier designated Salud to study a proposal to shorten the Governors Cup to about a month before the qualifying tournament to the 2014 World Cup, but this latest idea appears to be more acceptable to majority of the board members.

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