MANILA, Philippines -- After a series of moves that netted them Chris Banchero and Vic Manuel, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters can still add another key piece to their roster via the PBA Rookie Draft.
Phoenix Super LPG currently owns the seventh pick, having swapped positions with the Alaska Aces in the deal for Manuel.
Before making the deal for Manuel, team manager Paulo Bugia said in an interview on "The Chasedown" that they may add a big man or a small forward through the draft, to fill in the void left by Calvin Abueva. The team had sent "The Beast" to Magnolia in exchange for Banchero.
With Manuel and Banchero now in the fold, Phoenix Super LPG head coach Topex Robinson said they are thinking about the draft in a different way.
"We're pretty much gonna go for the best available talent," he acknowledged.
Their starting unit is starting to take shape, with Banchero, Manuel, Matthew Wright, Jason Perkins, and Justin Chua. For Robinson, what they need at the moment is a "character guy" who can also contribute and make up for what they lost when they gave up Abueva.
"We lost a lot when we lost Calvin," the coach admitted. "Hindi lang 'yung energy niya, but the numbers that he has put in."
"So we're finding ways to fill up that gap. And pretty much with the deep talent that we have right now coming in the pool, we're excited kung sino 'yung magla-land sa No. 7," he added.
The upcoming rookie draft is widely considered as the deepest in years, with several high profile players from the UAAP, NCAA, and the 3x3 circuit joining. A total of 31 Filipino-foreign players also applied, though it remains to be seen how many will make the final list.
Given the plethora of talent in the draft pool, Robinson is confident that whoever they take at No. 7 can immediately make an impact for the Fuel Masters.
"Kung sino man 'yun, I'm sure he's gonna be somebody who's gonna be playing a major role in our team," he said. "Having Vic and Chris, our veterans, we need rookies that's gonna step up in the future for us."
Phoenix Super LPG has yet to invite rookie hopefuls to join their small group practices, as they are waiting for the Office of the Commissioner to release the final list of draftees on March 5.
According to Robinson, the only potential draftee they have worked with is Reymar Caduyac, who was his former player in Lyceum of the Philippines University.
TerraFirma Dyip will pick first in the draft, which will be held virtually on March 14. NorthPort will pick second, while NLEX owns the third and fourth picks.
Rain or Shine will pick fifth, followed by Alaska, Phoenix Super LPG, TerraFirma, Meralco, Magnolia, NorthPort, and finally, Barangay Ginebra.