PBA 2014 Preview: Will Barako Bull prove that it still deserves to be in the PBA?

Sports5/Paul Ryan Tan

Sports5/Paul Ryan Tan

The Barako Bull franchise made a lot of noise in the offseason — for all the wrong reasons.

The team let go of one of the most brilliant basketball minds in the country after parting ways with coaching consultant Rajko Toroman. The team also traded away all its first round picks in a deep draft, and shipped promising guard Emman Monfort to Ginebra for third-stringer Rob Labagala.

The slew of moves had fans scratching their heads wondering if Barako Bull still belongs in the PBA.

Management has defended its offseason moves, saying that it’s still committed to form a competitive squad in the league.

To be sure, the team has a capable coaching staff even after the departure of Rajko Toroman. Bong Ramos has plenty of experience, and he will be assisted by another veteran bench tactician, Koy Banal, who spent last conference at Petron.

There’s also plenty of talent left on the squad, too. Willie Miller, Mick Pennisi, and Dorian Pena are veteran hands who helped Barako Bull make a surprise run to the semifinals of the Commissioner’s Cup two seasons ago.

The roster is peppered with players who have enjoyed starting roles with winning teams in the past, such as new acquisitions Rico Maierhofer and Denok Miranda along with holdovers Ronjay Buenafe, Jonas Villanueva, and JC Intal.

PBA/Nuki Sabio

PBA/Nuki Sabio

But it’s hard to be an observer of the PBA and not have a cynical outlook on the Barako Bull franchise. Even if the team overachieves and players emerge to become prolific stars again, there’s no guarantee that they’d end up staying long with the team — just ask Monfort. Or Josh Urbiztondo. Or Allein Maliksi. Or Enrico Villanueva. Or Doug Kramer. We could go on, but you get the point.

And if the team fares badly, then that would mean the team would have a high spot in the draft. And by now, everyone is aware of the team’s track record when it comes to draft picks.

At this point, Barako Bull ends up having more impact in the trading floor rather than in the championship picture. We’re hoping that the team would prove us wrong, for the sake of the league, and for the sake of the handful of people who remain fans of this team. But we won’t be holding our breath.

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