Victolero aims to mold big man Laput to solid, explosive Hotshot


MAGNOLIA doesn’t need 6-foot-10 rookie James Laput to be a dominant big man like six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, 7-footer Greg Slaughter or 6-foot-7 Ian Sangalang.

For Hotshots coach Chito Victolero, acquiring Laput from Terrafirma for high-flying point guard Justin Melton and big man Kyle Pascual was worth it especially for the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup that will kick off on December 8 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

“He [Laput] has a lot of upsides that’s why we’ll gamble on him. At 25 years old, I don’t want to compare him to June Mar [Fajardo], Greg [Slaughter] and even to Ian [Sangalang],” Victolero told BusinessMirror on Friday.

“As long as he is very effective, that’s fine with us. I know he’ll be a big help to our campaign this coming next conference,” Victolero said. “We’ll be patient with him so we’re hoping he will be patient with us. I believe he’ll be a big factor to us.”

Laput, a former De La Salle University center, is expected to take the place of 44-year-old veteran big man Rafi Reavis who will be retiring soon.

Magnolia is hoping to rebound from its runner-up finish to TNT Tropang Giga in the Philippine Cup and is confident former Houston Rockets player Mike Harris could help them achieve their goal.

“He’s been practicing with us for more than one week and everything is fine with Mike. He is embracing our system now,” Victolero said.

The Hotshots held a week-long team building session at the V-Farm at Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

In other developments, the PBA trade Committee revised the deal between TNT Tropang Giga and Blackwater on Friday. Carl Bryan Cruz was acquired by TNT from the Bossing for veteran Anthony Jay Washington plus 2022 and 2025 second round picks.

The PBA released also released the opening day schedule for the Governors’ Cup with Arwind Santos debuting for NorthPort against Alaska in the first game at 3 p.m., followed by Vic Manuel’s first game at San Miguel Beer against NLEX at 6 p.m.

Games will be played every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a single-round format with the top 4 teams in the quarterfinals gaining twice-to-beat advantages. The semifinals will be a best-of-5 series and the finals a best-of-seven series.

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