Escoto, Van Opstal potential targets of Phoenix, says Vanguardia

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Looking to fill in the void at the frontcourt, Phoenix is keen on drafting a big man who can make an immediate impact from the special draft which will be made up of members from the Gilas pool on October 30.

The Fuel Masters own the third pick overall in the special draft. And with former Far Eastern University stalwart Mac Belo a cinch to be selected no. 1 by Blackwater, Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia said ex-Tamaraws shooting big Russel Escoto and former De La Salle slot man slotman Arnold Van Opstal are the most viable options from there.

“We’re looking for the best available (talent) but as much as possible, we wish it could be a big man,” Vanguardia told FOX Sports on Saturday.

Vanguardia, best remembered for steering the KL Dragons to the Asean Basketball League championship last March, said they might also take into consideration Arellano star point guard and NCAA Mythical team member Jio Jalalon, who, despite his height, has the biggest upside with his playmaking and scoring abilities.

“Iba rin yung mabibigay ni (Jio) Jalalon, siyempre point guard. We’re not closing our doors on him,” shared Vanguardia.

Fil-Canadian forward Matthew Wright, who played under Vanguardia in the Dragons, is also high in Phoenix’s list.

Nonetheless, the 44-year old mentor stressed that the Fuel Masters must secure the best talent among the Gilas players, who will have a two-year no trade clause, for the franchise’s future.

“Di ka pwedeng magkamali rito, we are very careful on who will we draft,” he said.

Asked also about their plan on their two first round picks second and 12th) in the regular draft, Vanguardia said the coaching staff are already holding tryouts for the non-Gilas aspirants. – Jason Mercene

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH