Blackwater head coach Ariel Vanguardia admitted that it would’ve been perfect had the team nabbed Javi Gomez de Liano in the recent PBA Draft.
The veteran mentor said that the Bossings were really hoping that the former B.League import would still be available at no. 9, but ultimately got beaten to the draw by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with the eighth overall selection.
“Perfect na sana kung nag-land sa’min si De Liano kasi yun yung inaano namin sa no. 9 e,” he told reporters during the proceedings, Sunday evening at the Robinsons Place Manila in Ermita. “One pick away e. One pick away.
“Napaka-swerte ng Ginebra dun kay Javi Gomez de Liano. Yun talaga ina-eye namin sa no. 9 — pina-panalangin namin.”
Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone, on the other hand, admitted that choosing who to pick at no. 8 between Gomez de Liaño and Kurt Lojera was tough.
But then, the University of the Philippines product, according to the league’s most decorated tactician, “seemed like an obvious pick.”
However, just two days after the draft, Ginebra shipped Gomez de Liaño and Brian Enriquez to Terrafirma in exchange for second pick Jeremiah Gray.
So with Ginebra taking the 6-foot-5 winger, Blackwater instead went with Lojera, a product of La Salle who’s proven his worth as a solid two-way guard.
“We ranked Lojera higher than Gomez de Liaño. So sabi namin, dito tayo,” Vanguardia said.
“Perfect sana si Gomez de Liaño kasi naghahanap kami ng mataas na 3, pero si Lojera no pushover. Scorer at maganda nilaro sa La Salle.”
Vanguardia is elated to have picked a talent like Lojera at no. 9, and he couldn’t wait to see the Fil-Am cager give the veterans a run for their money.
“Si Lojera, very surprising na bumaba hanggang no. 9 so we picked the best available talent. Maglalaban sila sa spot ni [Rashawn] McCarthy niyan. Kasi pareho sila ng laro e. Magandang competition in practice,” he said.