source: Mark Giongco | INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines—Kerby Raymundo is never one to back down from big statements. After all, this was the same guy who declared on national television that he was denied a conference MVP award once.
So it did not come as a surprise that he added one last twist to the trade that shipped him out of the team he had led for so long and into one that he followed as a child.
As he put it, Raymundo wanted that trade.
“Actually, I requested to be traded to Ginebra because ever since I was a kid, Ginebra was my team,” said Raymundo, who led the Llamados to several championships including the 2002 PBA Governor’s Cup where he was named the Finals MVP.
“I’m blessed and happy to be here.”
A 12-year veteran with a handful Mythical first team selections under his belt, Raymundo knows the trade will force him to explore different facets of his game. Long the marquee big man of the B-Meg franchise, the former Letran standout knows he’s in a different situation now.
“Everyone knows Jayjay (Helterbrand) and Mark (Caguioa) are great scorers and I just need to set solid screens for them to get free,” added Raymundo. “Not much in the scoring, but in the other departments.”
The six-foot-six forward didn’t have a spectacular debut donning his favorite team’s jersey, but he did contribute just enough to help the Gin Kings nip Petron Blaze last Sunday.
Raymundo logged 31 minutes and netted 10 points to go along with six rebounds, four of which were offensive boards. However, he shot poorly, missing 11 of his 16 shots from the field and had three errors.
“He’s still feeling his way through what we’re doing. It’s really a process. The attitude is great but he needs to jell with his teammates and it hasn’t happened yet,” said Ginebra head coach Siot Tanquingcen. “But hopefully it will happen, since he’s very receptive to his teammates.”
“I was excited, I was too eager but I’ll do my best to get better and hopefully I can adjust faster,” Raymundo said of his first outing as a Gin King.
Raymundo was part of a three-team deal that sent athletic wingman JC Intal to B-Meg along with the 2012 second round pick of Barako Bull while Ronald Tubid, Reil Cervantes and Ginebra’s 2014 second round pick went to the Energy.
Apart from Raymundo, the Gin Kings also landed former Smart Gilas Pilipinas mainstay Dylan Ababou.
“Kerby is great, he gives us another big man presence as well as Ababou, even though he didn’t play to his capabilities tonight, that kid can play and I’m glad he’s on our team. Good trade on both sides,” said Helterbrand, who hit a sensational buzzer-beating leaner that salvaged the thrilling win for the Kings, 84-82.
Helterbrand said he’s glad to have the caliber of Raymundo “on their side” but also admitted that it’s going to take a lot of time before his new teammate gets to jell with everyone.
“So far he’s doing pretty good,” added Helterbrand.
Knee injuries may have robbed Ginebra of the opportunity to unleash a full-strength Raymundo on opponents. The former national player has logged several basketball miles already and the Kings are getting the star at the tailend of his career. But Tanquingcen believes his newly acquired forward still has a lot left in his tank.
“He just has to play who he is. Who Kerby is, he can’t change how he looks at himself. He just has to be himself. He just has to be that guy,” said Tanquingcen.
This is what Raymundo used to be: NCAA MVP, a 10-time PBA All-star, a Finals MVP and a champion. How much of that will Ginebra get? Raymundo just might give an answer that will surprise everybody.