The fanatics of the Purefoods TJ Giants received quite a jolt in the offseason involving its two top frontcourt stars. Rommel Adducul will be sidelined for the remainder of the season to undergo treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer while energetic forward Jean Marc Pingris has been traded to Magnolia for Enrico Villanueva to fill the void at the center position. As of presstime, the Giants have been trying to lure Rich Alvarez out of Red Bull to replace Pingrisâ€™ slot but it appears that the Barakos have other plans (at least not in exchange for Richard Yee).
Barring other forthcoming deals, the Giants are still pretty solid, and with import Darius Rice reinforcing them, they will be contenders for the Fiesta Cup crown. The high-scoring Rice has been a long-time NBA prospect. At 6â€™10â€ he will create mismatches with his ability to pop from the perimeter and bring the ball down. Rice once scored 52 points in an NBDL championship game, and had a 58-point average in his two-game stint in China. With Rice, Kerby Raymundo and Villanueva in the frontcourt, the Giants are downright scary. Then add a James Yap, Roger Yap and a PJ Simon to the mix and you have one explosive offensive basketball team.
The loss of Pingris will be felt because he exudes great energy and defensive tenacity on the court. Without their energy guy, the Giants will turn to rookies Ardy Larong and Rob Sanz and the veteran Rey Evangelista to fill the slack. Quite a tall order huh.
James Yap will continue to be one of the focal points on offense for the Giants but his touches are expected to be limited because of the presence of Darius Rice. Yap led the team and the league in scoring (22.77 ppg) and will be asked again to exert the same kind of effort. Raymundo continues to be the one of the best passing big men in the PBA today. He leads the team in assists (4.63 apg) but could find a way to increase those figures with Rice and Villanueva in tow.
Simon finally had a breakout conference wherein he emerged as the leagueâ€™s best sixth man (13.45 ppg). His development is especially important because he gives the Giants another go-to scorer whenever Yap sits down. Chico Lanete (7.63 ppg 1.73 spg) and has been awesome as a primary backup to Roger Yap despite being a rookie. Lanete is used to playing in big games during his PBL days, and the coaching staff has so far, given him the trust and confidence to do whatever he wants to do on the court.
Jondan Salvador has been an efficient backup center despite being undersized for the position. Since Rice doesnâ€™t play the post, Salvador and Villanueva will be tasked to guard the other teams’ “big” imports. Their effectiveness on defending the post, could well be the gauge on how far can the team go in the coming conference.