Jul 01, 2020

Esplana and Jackson: Shell's gems of trade acquisitions in late 90s

BENJIE Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc and Bobby Parks are easily the biggest names to pop out when one talks about the Shell franchise and its PBA journey.

They were the heroes in Shell's breakthrough championship and early glorious rides in the local pro league.

Then there's the ball club's renaissance in the late 90s, with Paras, now fighting Father Time, getting perfect complements from perfect Shell acquisitions.

Winning coach Perry Ronquillo made special mention of two guys in trade recruits Chris Jackson and Gerry Esplana.

"The trade was consummated when I was still an assistant (to Chito Narvasa)," said Ronquillo in his recent appearance in ClutchPoint podcast by Rey Joble.

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He was referring to the transaction involving Magsanoc, Esplana, Jackson and Romy dela Rosa, among others.

"What we're looking for is a guard that could create mismatches and give us the extra edge. The opportunity presented itself. I don't recall whom we traded for whom. But what I recall is that we got Gerry and Jackson in the same trade. And both gave us a different dimension," said Ronquillo.

The two were key factors in Shell's conquest of Mobiline in the 1998 Third Conference finals and triumph over Tanduay in the 1999 all-Filipino championship.

"Gerry is a tough matchup. I remember watching a show where Dindo Pumaren and Ronnie Magsanoc were asked who were their difficult matchups back in the day. Both said it's Gerry because he's big and strong, and he had what we call 'off-timing' moves," said Ronquillo.

The two-time PBA champion coach said he's fortunate he's able to play Esplana from their high school days - Esplana playing for San Beda and Ronquillo for La Salle.

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"I had an opportunity to play Gerry. He's really a tough matchup. And so I know how to use Gerry," said Ronquillo.

As for Jackson, Ronquillo said he was impressed of the guy from the time he was trying out for the Philippine team to the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.

"I was assistant then (to coach Norman Black). It's also an opportunity for me to see Chris and I said then 'this guy is good.' And I keep an eye on him from then on," said Ronquillo.

When Shell landed Jackson, Ronquillo was saying: "This guy deserves playing 45 minutes. He's not gonna score but will do what's needed for us to win."

And Jackson did just that, doing the dirty work from being import stopper and a real defensive force at the post.

In the end, it was a key trade that bore great fruits for Shell before its disbandment. (SB)