A fair trade

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Michael Angelo S. Murillo

Give And Go

Last week saw a trade in the Philippine Basketball Association which created much buzz over the fairness of it.

I am talking, of course, of the deal involving the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Northport Batang Pier where the former received All-Star guard Stanley Pringle from the latter in exchange for veteran Sol Mercado, Jervy Cruz and Kevin Ferrer.

The trade was viewed by stakeholders in the aftermath with much divide, with some saying the defending Commissioner’s Cup champions Kings won in said deal while others said that the Batang Pier did well, and actually won, in dealing away “Stan The Man.”

Having had the opportunity to absorb the deal, including the rationale of both teams in going ahead with the trade, and seeing the new-look rosters of Barangay Ginebra and Northport in action at the weekend, this space would have to say that the players exchange they engaged in was a fair one.

In Pringle the Kings acquired a ready and proven performer without giving away too much.

Pringle is a solid addition to the guard rotation of Barangay Ginebra, which includes fellow All-Stars LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson. He can play both guard positions, giving his new team flexibility in using him.

At 32 years old, Pringle still has a lot of good years ahead of him, ensuring the Kings a steady hand at the backcourt for the now and the future, especially when Tenorio rides into the sunset.

He is bona-fide take-charge guy who gives the Barangay Ginebra attack another dimension to complement its vaunted triangle offense.

In his first game with the Kings on Sunday against the NLEX Road Warriors, Pringle played well under a new setup.

He had his early struggles, which was understandable especially since he is coming back from surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle, but eventually picked things up in helping Barangay Ginebra to the 100-85 victory.

Pringle had 16 points, on an efficient six-of-10 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Some work obviously still needs to be done to fully incorporate Pringle to the Kings’ attack but both parties are willing to work it out and that is a good sign.

Over at Northport, things are looking up as well upon acquiring Mercado, Cruz and Ferrer.

The Batang Pier lost a star in his prime in Pringle but got three players who can help it to be competitive in their “recalibration.”

And the arrival of the three could not have been opportune, since the team is dealing with injuries to some of its mainstays, primary of which is Jonathan Grey who is expected to be out for a while because of an ACL injury.

It helps Northport that the three players it got from Barangay Ginebra, like Pringle, are battle-tested, and at the highest level at that (read: championship).

Mercado may be advanced in age but he is still very capable of making things happen on both ends of the court. Cruz when healthy and given enough playing time is a potential double-double guy, notwithstanding being undersized for the four position. Ferrer is a young player who could well be the face in the wing for the Batang Pier for years to come.

In their first game in a Northport uniform?

Mercado had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists; Cruz finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds; and Ferrer wound up with 23 points and six assists. Not bad. Not bad at all. Right?

And the thing about it, they were able to do their thing without disrupting too much the effectiveness of their teammates, with guys like Sean Anthony, Paolo Taha, Robert Bolick and Mo Tautuaa still getting their steady numbers in their big 127-99 win over the Blackwater Elite.

Getting what they needed and seemingly improved their current makeup in the short and long term, both Barangay Ginebra and Northport came out winners in the recent dealing they had between them. And if that is not fair, I do not know what is.


Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.