Just days after a nuclear “Woj Bomb” dropped on the basketball world, another massive shock wave hit the Philippine basketball. PBA superstar Stanley Pringle was dealt to Barangay Ginebra from the NorthPort Batang Pier in exchange for Sol Mercado, Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz.
The trade was regarded as a bit of a shocker. On one hand, there was NorthPort who has been doing exceptionally well in the on-going Commissioner’s Cup, currently standing at 5-1. On the other, the defending champions, Ginebra, already has a formidable core with strong familiarity that seemed unbreakable ever since ending their eight year championship drought in 2016. The trade created not only a social media frenzy for basketball fans but also tremendous impact for both teams involved.
For the fan favorites Ginebra, the deal for Pringle only means one thing: they are ALL BUSINESS moving forward. The local core of LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar together with super import Justin Brownlee is lethal as it is, but the arrival of Pringle just makes them even more deadly.
We have to understand that the talent pedigree that Pringle is bringing to the Barangay is a whole new level of elite. A consistent best player of the conference candidate every conference, Pringle is just coming off a career year last season after averaging 20.6 points per game and finished second in the MVP race. And in terms of talent alone, it could be argued that Pringle is currently the best point guard in the league. He is called Stan the Man for a reason.
Coincidently, he is exactly what the doctor ordered for Ginebra. As stacked as they have been, the defending champs clearly still lacked a clear cut shot maker other than their resident import in Brownlee. In fact, in this conference alone, Brownlee has been jacking up almost 25 shots a game while playing a heavy 46 minutes per game. As intricate and as effective Tim Cone’s patented Triangle Offense has been, Ginebra tends to rely heavily on Brownlee to either create shots not only for himself but also for his teammates. And just like any other team, one man can’t do it alone especially on scoring the basketball.
Injecting Pringle gives them that additional “bail out” scorer but at the same time, adds so much more flexibility offensively. He could essentially play what Sol Mercado has been doing for Ginebra: a backup point guard coming off the bench behind Tenorio who would be given the freedom to penetrate off of isolations or pick and rolls where he is at his best. Pringle can also create shots not only for himself but also for his teammates which could benefit everyone on the team. Additionally, because of his ability to shoot from behind the thee-point arc, he could also play the shooting guard position alongside either Tenorio or Thompson. In two games this conference, he is shooting 46% from the three-point area.
However, the losses of Mercado, Ferrer and Cruz are not to be taken lightly. Sol has long been a driving force for the Barangay and perhaps plays with more #NSD attitude than anyone else on the team. Giving up Ferrer and Cruz means voiding their wing and front court depth as well. But let’s not forget that Ginebra still has three proven players in Jeff Chan, Jared Dillinger and Art Dela Cruz still on the sidelines recovering from injuries. Adding Pringle is more than enough to make up for it. Take it from a longtime Ginebra fan, I honestly can say that Stanley Pringle is their biggest acquisition yet since getting LA Tenorio, also via trade, back in 2012.
On first glance, it is perfectly understandable to question Northport’s decision to trade their best player on the roster for a bunch of role players. Just look at the online comments and tweets to understand what I mean. Giving away a player the caliber of Pringle is indeed a hard shoes to fill but bringing in Mercado, Ferrer and Cruz could actually help the Batang Pier not only on their current campaign, but also in the future.
The first thing that the three new acquisitions instantly bring into the table for Northport is undeniable championship experience. Having been around the successful championship runs of Ginebra for the past three years, these playerscould help the team in their playoff push for this conference.
Mercado should bring in his fearless yet effective style of play into the mix as well as his toughness on both ends of the floor. That should mix well with the system of Coach Pido Jarencio. He will bring that extra feistiness and passion for the game which, currently only Sean Anthony and Robert Bolick have been providing for NorthPort.
Meanwhile, Ferrer and Cruz can be the stabilizers coming off the bench. Ferrer will bring in three-point shooting and the defensive versatility that he is known for while Cruz could provide quality backup minutes for emerging big man, Moala Tautuaa. It should also be noted that these two are well known players of Head coach Pido Jarencio in their UST days so fitting in to his system should not be a problem.
The biggest gain for the Batang Pier, is the opportunity for their young players moving forward. Bolick, Paolo Taha, Jonathan Grey and Nico Elorde have all been tremendous so far in their current campaign.
The biggest responsibility will now fall into the hands of Bolick who has been a star in the making. With the departure of Pringle, the rookie sensation out of San Beda is now being given the keys to take command of the Batang Pier for now and the foreseeable future. Bolick has nothing been sort of impressive so far with his sweet outside shooting and ability to play the point guard position. And with him now manning the ship for his team, Bolick should take full advantage of this opportunity.
The fun part of blockbuster trades like this is not fully knowing who won the trade without actually seeing how will it turn out for both teams. On one end, this trade may end up as one of those controversial lopsided trades that almost everyone ranted against or it could it just turn out pretty fine for both teams.
For now, everyone got what they wanted. Ginebra is getting the scoring dynamo they badly needed. NorthPort is slowly transitioning to their future while also filling out the rest of their roster with talent. It’s exciting times ahead for both teams and their fans.