MANILA, Philippines -- After losing Cyrus Baguio to retirement, it appears that the NLEX Road Warriors will also be without talismanic big man Asi Taulava for the upcoming PBA season.
Baguio officially retired in January after 17 seasons in the league, having opted not to play in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup. Taulava played in the conference but refused to make any concrete statement on his future after their campaign was over.
However, NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena said during a recent appearance on "Power and Play" that they are looking for a big man in the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft to fill in the void left by Taulava.
"With the departure of Asi, siyempre another big guy na naman 'yung nawala, so kailangan punuin 'yung spot na 'yun," Ravena told PBA commissioner Noli Eala.
NLEX holds the third and fourth picks in the upcoming draft, and Ravena noted that their team will almost certainly go for a player who can shore up their frontcourt.
"Well, obviously 'yung size talaga, I think that was really glaring during the bubble. That's what we lack," he said.
However, Ravena also hopes they can get a swingman who can take the place of Baguio in their rotation. He is optimistic that they can find an impact player, as a deep pool of players have declared for the draft this year.
"We have a very deep draft coming into this year," Ravena said.
"Ang naisip ko lang 'yung nawala sa team eh, si Asi, si Cyrus, nag-retire na sila parehas, so if you could fill in a very athletic, long and skillful wingman like Cyrus, malaking bagay din 'yun," he explained.
"Siyempre hindi man agad-agad mapapalitan 'yung Cyrus Baguio but if we can get somebody who plays similar or plays like Cyrus, siyempre si Cyrus, player na rin ni Coach Yeng (Guiao) 'yan before, pasok sa sistema namin 'yung ganoon," he added.
The Rookie Draft is set for March 14 in a virtual ceremony. TerraFirma and NorthPort will select first and second, respectively, before NLEX makes the next two picks.
Meanwhile, the Road Warriors are already holding small group practices in anticipation of the coming season.
The team failed to advance to the playoffs in the Philippine Cup and Ravena said this will serve as their motivation for the coming season, whenever it may be held.
"Siyempre gusto namin makabawi. We were very disappointed with what happened inside the PBA bubble," said Ravena, who averaged 19.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game in the All-Filipino Conference.
"We have to forget about it and make it as motivation to bounce back, and even perform better this coming year, whether we're having one or two or three conferences," he added.
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