MANILA, Philippines – With all of its off-season acquisitions, Barako Bull's roster power has certainly improved, but coach Junel Baculi insists they still need to find an able replacement for Willie Miller.
"We have to find one to augment our two spot. We're okay in all positions except that particular spot. Willie's a big loss. He’s our go-to guy," said Baculi.
"We have to look for a replacement. I don’t know how right now, maybe through trade," added Baculi, hinting at another trade deal they would work on before the start of the 38th PBA season on Sept. 30.
Barako Bull has actually acquired veteran player Roger Yap from the free agent pool to play at two-guard with Ronald Tubid.
The Energy's other new recruits are rookies Dave Marcelo, Lester Alvarez and Eman Monfort, and Rico Villanueva, the one they got in giving away Miller in the multi-team trade team.
Overall, Baculi believes his team improved, describing it as "a combination of youth and experience."
Mick Pennisi, Danny Seigle, Doug Kramer and Celino Cruz are other key holdovers from the Barako Bull team that narrowly missed the last Commissioners Cup finals.
The Energy were eighth placers last season in terms of overall win-loss percentage (.429), winning 18 of 42 matches.
"We've become younger and I think we can run now," said Baculi, now having at his disposal fresh legs in rookies Marcelo, Alvarez and Monfort.
Marcelo and Monfort are champion players in the amateurs, winning titles with N-LEX in the PBA D-League and with the Phl team in the SEA Games.
Marcelo is a former NCAA MVP awardee from San Beda while Monfort is a product of Ateneo's winning basketball program.
Alvarez, meanwhile, is bringing over to Barako Bull what he'd learned from coach Leo Austria with the Adamson Falcons.
"Our initial goal in the coming Philippine Cup is to make the semis," said Baculi.
The team has no health problem except for Doug Kramer's jumper's knee.
"It's minor and we're giving him the needed rest," said Baculi.