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Three teams make trade moves ahead of league rookie draft

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THREE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) teams made trade moves ahead of the league rookie draft this weekend.

In an announcement on Thursday, the league said the NLEX Road Warriors, Blackwater Bossing and TNT Tropang GIGA figured in a three-way trade involving rookie picks and young veteran players.

The player swaps, which were approved by the PBA trade committee, have NLEX trading its number four pick in the first round of the rookie draft on March 14 to Blackwater in exchange for guard Roi Sumang, forward Don Trollano, center Maurice Shaw and the Bossing’s 2022 second-round draft pick.

Blackwater then sent the number four pick it got from the Road Warriors to TNT for guard Simon Enciso, power forward David Semerad and the Tropang GIGA’s 2023 first-round draft pick and 2024 second-round pick.

NLEX, which still has the number three pick for Sunday’s draft, got a collection of serviceable players from the deal which it hopes to tap to provide stability to the team in the coming PBA season.

Mr. Sumang was one of the bright lights for an otherwise rough campaign for Blackwater in the PBA “bubble” last year, averaging 10.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals. He further shores up the already-loaded guard rotation of NLEX which includes Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Jericho Cruz, and Mike Ayonayon.

Mr. Trollano, meanwhile, reunites with coach Yeng Guiao, who he played for in Rain or Shine. He was consistent for the Bossing last season, averaging 14.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. The same stability is something the Road Warriors are angling to get from him now that he is in their fold.

Big man Shaw did not get to play much in his rookie season with Blackwater last year because of injury, but NLEX will look to use his height and heft to fortify its frontcourt.

Blackwater, for its part, received veteran players who helped TNT in its solid run in the tournament bubble in 2020.

Mr. Enciso averaged 9.6 points and 2.8 assists for the Tropang GIGA, who reached the finals of the Philippine Cup, while Mr. Semerad was a steady defensive and physical presence.

TNT, meanwhile, is back in the first round of the draft after finding itself sans a pick because of prior deals it had.

At number four, the Tropang GIGA is in prime position to get a quality prospect in the draft.

Reports have it that the team is keenly eyeing Fil-foreign guard Mikey Williams and San Beda University standout Calvin Oftana for the pick.

The PBA rookie draft will be held virtually on Sunday at 4 p.m. It will be aired live on TV5 and One Sports with livestream over ESPN5.com.

Draft order has Terrafirma picking first, followed by Northport, NLEX, TNT, Rain or Shine, and Alaska.

The rest of the opening round has Phoenix Super LPG, Terrafirma, Meralco, Magnolia, NorthPort and Barangay Ginebra selecting.

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