As Terrafirma awaits the approval on the trade proposal that would send young star wingman CJ Perez to San Miguel, this early, coach John Cardel is setting his sights on possibly nabbing Fil-American Joshua Munzon as the Dyip's top overall pick in the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft this March.
Cardel admitted the team management's decision to move Perez didn't come as a surprise anymore after Terrafirma governor Bobby Rosales hinted of a "major change within the team this offseason" early this week.
While the trade has yet to be finalized pending review by the trade committee, Cardel said he's highly recommending to management to grab a reliable wingman who could take the spot of Perez.
"We will be looking for someone to replace CJ, someone like him who can play multiple positions," Cardel told ESPN5. "Munzon? I think he can (be considered). We know he can really score, and can really shoot also."
The 6-foot-4 Munzon is coming in with an impressive basketball resume that includes playing two seasons in the ASEAN Basketball League, suiting up for the Saigon Heat and Westports Malaysia Dragons, and just recently, toiling in the Chooks-to-Go 3x3 league.
Cardel will surely miss Perez, who has had a phenomenal freshman year after winning multiple awards in the 2019 season- the Rookie of the Year, earning All-Mythical First Team, All-Defensive Team, PBA Scoring champion and All-Rookie Team.
The former Lyceum Pirate superstar averaged 24.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals in the PBA bubble where he was nominated for Best Player of the Conference. Perez at present is in the Gilas Pilipinas bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba.
Being the loyal soldier that he is, Cardel said he respects management's decision and will work on the pieces that he has in a bid to lead the Dyip to the playoffs in the coming 2021 PBA Season.
As it is, Cardel hinted at tapping a big man for the no. 8 pick in the opening round of the rookie draft. Under the proposed Perez trade with SMB, TerraFirma stands to get the Beermen's no. 8 pick, along with bench players Gelo Alolino, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Russel Escoto.
The Terrafirma coach said originally, they were eyeing Justine Baltazar, the La Salle big man as its top pick for this year's draft. But the Mabalacat, Pampanga native decided to skip this year's rookie proceedings and stay for his final collegiate season.
"Baltazar is very agile, and someone you can't really say is a mere project (player) because he's ready to play in the PBA," Cardel said. "He can shoot, can play at the post and he can certainly match up well, especially against big players who are now that quick. He can even play the 4 or 5 positions."
While the rookie pool has a number of quality big men, Cardel is keeping his cards close to his chest for now.
La Salle's athletic forward Jamie Malonzo and Troy Rike, both Fil-foreign players would have been nice choices at frontcourt, but Cardel isn't expecting both bigs to be available by the time they take their turn at the eighth pick.