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Magnolia Hotshots happy with Calvin Abueva, but are keeping options open

Magnolia management is undoubtedly happy about getting Calvin Abueva in a surprise blockbuster deal from Phoenix, but team governor Rene Pardo has not ruled out the possibility of trading the new Hotshots forward for a more lucrative package.

"It depends. It's never final. Of course, it depends on who the offer will be. It's hard to tell right now," Pardo told ESPN5.com's Richard Dy in Filipino on Wednesday. "We have a lot of ongoing negotiations, but right now that's the only news that has been made public."

The Hotshots on Wednesday landed the seven-time All-Star in exchange for star guard Chris Banchero and their first (No. 6) and second round (No. 18) picks in the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft. Magnolia also received Phoenix's No. 10 pick in the deal that has been approved by the league's trade committee.

Pardo said the trade fits the needs of both teams.

"Chris is no ordinary player, and that No. 6 pick is a good selection because there are a lot of great applicants. That's a great trade for Phoenix, and we're happy too," he said. "We also got a player who can switch from small forward to power forward. I'm excited to see how we'll look like."

Banchero's second conference with the Hotshots saw him share the floor with two other primary ball handlers. He averaged 10.8 points on 40.3 percent shooting, 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game in the 2020 bubble season.

"We lost a versatile guard, but if we're going to get someone like Calvin, I expected that we'll lose a great talent as well," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero in an interview with News5's Lyn Olavario. "I respect and love Chris. I love the way he carries himself, his attitude, his work ethic. He'll be in a good position with Phoenix, and the positive thing is coach Topex likes him, so I'm not bothered because heading there will be beneficial for his career too."

Abueva, meanwhile, barely looked like a player who missed over a year due to suspension and immediately gave the Fuel Masters a lift by averaging 15.4 points on 45.6 percent shooting, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 35 minutes per game. Phoenix came a win away from its first finals appearance in franchise history with him on board.

Pardo believes the 33-year-old Abueva, who also earned a Best Player of the Conference nomination in the Philippine Cup, will fit like a glove with Magnolia's system.

"Calvin will complement the style of Magnolia, and the pressure defense and the run-and-gun type of play is fit for Calvin's style too. We'll see in April," he said.

Victolero agreed. "We're a more up-tempo team and on defense, we like pressuring, which is what he does," the coach said. "So he's a big help in terms of what we run in our system - our defense, his rebounding. He carried himself inside the bubble well and he proved that he can be better."

Magnolia will also be looking for another big man in the draft, although Pardo said nothing beats a proven star like Abueva.

"We got the No. 10 pick of Phoenix and we'll look at other bigs in the draft. There's just no one like Calvin because he's already proven himself," he said.

After sliding to no. 10, Victolero said the team "is back to square one. We'll look at our choices in the draft. We'll talk and we'll wait for the final list because we don't know if the Fil-Ams are going to be approved. We'll wait until Mar. 5 and then maybe we can decide what position and what type of player we'll want to draft."