by Waylon Galvez
Is the Kia Picanto willing to part ways and trade the top overall pick in this year’s PBA Rookie Draft even if it means getting a young talented player in Kiefer Ravena or Christian Standhardinger?
The answer is yes.
Kia’s team manager Eric Pineda said the team is not closing the door on suitors hoping to get the No. 1 selection, which the team will get based on its finish after three conferences.
“It’s possible, we’re not closing the door,” said Pineda in a phone interview with Bulletin-Tempo. “The important thing, of course, is whatever is best for the team, that’s what we’ll do.”
“But for now, nothing is final. We have yet to talk (together with the coaches) on what we’ll do,” added Pineda, a business partner of Kia coach and boxing legend, Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
In the first two conferences of the PBA, Kia – then using the name Mahindra – finished with similar 3-8 cards, placing 10th in both the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup.
In the Governors’ Cup, the team failed to notch a single win in 11 matches to finish last (12th place).
The league’s Commissioner’s Office has yet to come out with the official drafting order, but under PBA rules, the drafting order will be based on the combined finish of a team in all three conferences, which gives Kia the No. 1 overall pick in the draft on Oct. 29 at the Robinson’s Place Ermita, Manila.
An expansion franchise back in 2014, Kia actually has a history of trading a high rookie pick.
In 2015, Kia selected former National University stalwart and Gilas Pilipinas cadet Troy Rosario with the second overall pick, but a few days later, the 6-foot-7 forward was dealt to TNT in a three-team trade.
“Hindi malabo na mangyari uli yun – before or after the draft,” said a source.
Another source said that the partner of Kia in the trade talks this time is Star.
The team’s alternate governor Rene Pardo, however, said there is no negotiation, although they are willing to explore talks if it would lead to the Hotshots getting a big guy in 6-foot-8 Standhardinger.
“Alam naman ng lahat na ang kulang talaga sa amin malaki,” said Pardo.
“Kung willing naman sila (to trade the No. 1 pick), we can discuss it with them, mamili sila (players on our roster) then we’ll decide. Kung pwede naman ba bakit hindi kung ang kapalit naman e makakakuha kami ng malaking player,” added Pardo.
The official of Star declined to comment on who is he willing to part ways with among the current batch of Hotshots.
But after shipping the supposed franchise player of the team in James Yap last season to Rain or Shine, it won’t be surprising if several mainstays or so-called stars of the team would be included in a package just to get the services of the Gilas player in Standhardinger.