In the middle of what was a quiet Tuesday afternoon, four teams' fortunes were altered for the upcoming season and beyond. The San Miguel Beermen's deal to get a franchise player from Terrafirma was approved by the PBA, while the Meralco Bolts and Blackwater Elite swapped key players to hopefully bolster their respective lineups. Let's take a look at how each team made out.
The San Miguel-Terrafirma trade
San Miguel trades: Gelo Alolino, Russell Escoto, Matt Ganuelas-Roser, 2020 (46th Season) first round pick, and 2022 (48th Season) PBA Draft.
Terrafirma trades: CJ Perez
San Miguel: A+
I mean, could there have been any other grade for the Beermen?
Not only does San Miguel retain all the members of their fab five, their bench has also been revamped tremendously with the arrival of Perez. It can't be stated how big a deal this is for Perez to be part of the Beermen, without giving up a major rotation piece.
Despite defenses always looking to stop him, Perez was still an absolute stud. He led the league in scoring in the elims, averaging 24.3 points, to go along with 6.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.0 steals. He's the type of player that every team dreams of having- an unstoppable force of nature attacking the paint, as well as a determined defender who can hound anyone when he wants to shut them down.
Perez most likely won't be able to put up the same stats with San Miguel. But he won't have to. The major strength that Perez brings to the table is his versatility. With the 2019 Rookie of the Year in the fold, that will force either Alex Cabagnot or Chris Ross to the bench. That means that San Miguel will have all sorts of devastating lineups to throw at opponents, depending on the matchup. If they need added firepower, they can plug in Perez with Terrence Romeo, or even go with a small ball unit featuring three guards. If they need a more defensive-minded squad, then Perez also makes sense together with Ross, giving them athleticism and a great defender on both on-ball and off-ball ballhandlers.
This is the type of move that can turn contenders into champions. For the Beermen, a team that is already getting June Mar Fajardo soon, this is a flare fired into the sky, reminding everyone that the road to a title still has to go through a fully-formed Beermen squad.
One day, perhaps in the near future, we will understand why the Dyip decided to give up on Perez this quickly. Perhaps in time, we will fathom why they gave up the leading scorer of the league for Russel Escoto and Gelo Alolino, two players who averaged a combined total of 4.02 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists.
Perhaps the pick that they will receive from San Miguel, which will be the 8th overall, could be a stud to pair with whoever they pick first overall.
Maybe Matt Ganuelas-Rosser arrives to provide depth and defense for the Dyip next season.
But in the meantime, it should be fair to ask, after trading the top pick for the second time in three seasons: what is Terrafirma going to do with all the depth they trade for, season after season after season?
When you think of what the Dyip could have been had they just stood pat and let their young players breathe and grow together, it boggles the mind. But Terrafirma has clung to their mantra of exchanging franchise-level talent for several players that could in time develop to become solid rotational players.
Gelo Alolino could be a steady playmaker for the Dyip. Russell Escoto, even though we already saw him play several seasons with the Dyip, could be a consistent scorer.
But would you really rather have those potential pieces, than a stud in CJ Perez?
The Blackwater-Meralco trade (still subject to approval of the PBA trade committee)
Blackwater trades: Mac Belo
Meralco trades: Baser Amer
This has nothing to do with Baser Amer, a player who has proven that he can be one of the best guards in the PBA when given the minutes and opportunities. Instead, this has everything to do with what the Elite needs in their lineup. On paper, their backcourt of Roi Sumang, Ed Daquioag, Paul Desiderio and Mike Tolomia is their strength. In fact it's been this backcourt together with Don Trollano that has kept Elite in the thick of battles inside the Bubble. Making the Blackwater backcourt situation even more complicated was the recent signing of Ron Dennison to a one-year deal, a clear sign that the Elite believe in the defensive minded FEU guard.
Adding Amer to the mix seems like a duplication of what he was already facing with the Bolts - a crowded backcourt, with not enough minutes to produce at a high level. Consider that Amer was already fighting for minutes in the point guard position way before the Bolts even drafted Trevis Jackson and Aaron Black in back to back PBA Drafts. Now he'll have to do it all over again, unless this move is a precursor to another Blackwater Elite trade.
On the other hand, this is a definite win for the Bolts, as they clear up their backcourt to allow Aaron Black or John Pinto into the starting point guard slot, with Trevis Jackson and Anjo Caram providing depth off the bench. Belo has been beset with injuries that derailed his once promising career. Remember, this was a guy who was discussed in the same breath as Troy Rosario when they were entering the Draft separately.
With averages of 11.4 points, and 5.3 rebounds, Belo should fit in nicely with Coach Norman Black's methodical half court offense. Belo is a natural small forward, but in a pinch he can also play the power forward position to match up with teams that want to space the floor.
Mac definitely needed a chance of scenery, and perhaps moving to Meralco is exactly what he will need to rejuvenate his career.