BY Tito S. Talao
LOS ANGELES – Former national coach Joe Lipa, now the team manager of the Kia Picanto in the Philippine Basketball Association, not only has the ear of Bobby Rosales, Kia’s representative to the PBA board of governors.
Lipa, apparently, also has the go signal to steer the downtrodden Picanto franchise anywhere he wants – presumably out of the 0-11 chasm it fell into during the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup.
Rosales bared Saturday night here that Lipa has been given the green light to form a team he sees fit to bring him closer to his vision and put to the test his longtime basketball philosophy.
“Joe has no timetable to turn things around,” said Rosales. “That would be unfair to him because I know how difficult it is to form a competitive team.”
Rosales found himself in the middle of a raging storm which saw its franchise getting buffeted from all sides after Kia traded away its 1st round pick which San Miguel Beer used to acquire 6-foot-7 Fil-German Christian Standhardinger.
While he refused to delve into the details of the trade in light of a truce agreed on by the warring PBA board, Rosales said it was Kia’s prerogative to choose the direction it wants to take.
That would be Lipa’s concept of “non-traditional basketball” where it could be construed some tried-and-tested maxims would be set aside to make way for a less conventional system that apparently wouldn’t suit Standhardinger, a strong presence at the low post.
“It’s Joe’s call, and I told him ‘this is your chance to demonstrate your idea,’” said Rosales, who confirmed Chris Gavina has been retained as head coach, with former University of the Philippines coach Ricky Dandan and ex-PBA player Art dela Cruz as assistants.
Gavina has been elevated to head coach status after boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, Kia’s original playing-coach, opted not to renew his contract.
Asked if Kia would have chosen to keep the No. 1 pick had the deal with the Beermen fell through, Rosales let on that other ballclubs have also expressed interest in acquiring the right to choose first in the rookie draft, hinting a similar trade would have been hammered out.
He declined to mention any other ballclub though.
When it was pointed out that Kia has now given up back-to-back first round picks, having signed away former National University center Troy Rosario to Talk ‘N Text last season, Rosales said the need to acquire veterans and talented free agents may have outweighed the desire to pick up touted if inexperienced neophytes because of their dilemma.
“We had no players when we came in. We sought concession from the PBA to bring up players of our own but it was not allowed, so we had to find ways to fill up our roster,” Rosales said.
The three SMB players Kia got from SMB for the draft rights to Standhardinger – Ronald Tubid, Jay-R Reyes and Rashwan McCarty – have already joined their new team. But Kia stands to lose top playmaker LA Revilla, who was put to the trading block after he posted a controversial tweet where he apparently dismissed management’s reason for letting go of their first pick.
“He is no longer practicing with us, and we have made clear to his agent that we are open to any trades that would be mutually acceptable to both parties,” said Rosales. “Ayaw din naman namin na pigilan yung bata kung gusto na niyang umalis.”
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