MAGNOLIA ang Pambansang Manok has just gotten a valuable piece which should prove crucial in the Hotshots' campaign in the coming PBA seasons.
But even Calvin Abueva and the rest of his new teammates could not cover a nagging hole in the Hotshots' frontline, that's why the search goes on for coach Chito Victolero.
One route Victolero is taking is to invite some of the big men who have applied for the March 14 rookie draft in Magnolia's individual workout.
"May mga tinitingnan kami and in-invite namin sila sa practices starting Monday," said Victolero, referring to Leonard Santillan, Larry Muyang, James Laput and Ben Adamos.
"Napanood na namin sila sa mga laro nila dati pero siyempre iba 'yung actual na napapanood mo and at the same time makasama nila mga players namin."
It is from such workouts that Victolero hopes to base his decision in the draft where Magnolia has the 10th pick overall.
"Sa dami ng mga bigs na applicants, kasama 'yung mga Fil-Ams, siguro naman may aabutan pa kami sa ibang prospects namin," said Victolero.
Abueva averaged 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 steals for Phoenix Super LPG in last season's Philippine Cup, helping power the Fuel Masters to a first-ever semifinals stint.
Then in a shocker of a trade approved by the PBA Tuesday, Abueva was sent to Magnolia in a deal that also involved draft picks.
With veteran Marc Pingris out due to nagging calf and foot injuries, Magnolia had to mainly make do with a frontline of Ian Sangalang, Rafi Reavis, new acquisition Jackson Corpuz and rookie Aris Dionisio in the lone conference salvaged from last year's pandemic-struck season.
Victolero wants to cover all his bases in case Pingris remains questionable for the coming season that kicks off April 9.
"Kaya kailangan talaga namin isa pang big," said Victolero. "Tingnan natin sa draft." (NC)