The Blackwater Elite have locked up incoming PBA rookies Abu Tratter and Paul Desiderio to multi-year deals to beef up their lineup ahead of the upcoming Philippine Cup that tips off on January 13.
According to Tratter's agent PJ Pilares of the Titan Management Group, the big man signed a three-year deal worth P6.5 million. Desiderio also inked a three-year deal.
Desiderio was the fourth overall pick of the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft by the NLEX Road Warriors. Coach Yeng Guiao traded away Alex Mallari and Dave Marcelo to the Phoenix Fuel Masters for the opportunity to select the guard from the University of the Philippines.
NLEX then used their seventh pick to scoop up Tratter. The product of De La Salle University in the UAAP did not finish his collegiate year with a bang as he played behind Ben Mbala. However, his potential wasn't left unnoticed as he was included in the 23 for 23 pool of Gilas Pilipinas for the next FIBA Basketball World Cup. He was also one of the youngest players to suit up for Gilas as he saw minutes in the FIBA Asian Qualifier game against Australia in Melbourne.
Desiderio, on the other hand, was the emotional leader of UP in their fantastic run to the finals in the last UAAP competitions. His willingness to take big shots in the end game really helped grow his stock in the draft as he was a surprise selection at the fourth spot.
However, NLEX management could not pass up on the opportunity of nabbing center JP Erram from the Blackwater Elite, seeing him as one of the top big men in the league outside the likes of June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter. Blackwater was willing to part with their prized big man, who was the only original member of their expansion squad, as long as they got the two first-round picks of the Road Warriors.
"Of course I'm happy because they gave me a three-year contract. They gave me a chance to perform," Desiderio said in a statement released by his management group. "I didn't expect to get a contract that long. I don't feel added pressure but I promise to give my best every game."
Before this pair of signings, Blackwater also gave another former Maroon Diego Dario a one-year contract. The last piece of the puzzle for the young squad is to seal the deal with franchise cornerstone Ray Parks, who was the second pick overall of 2018.