<
>

Barangay Ginebra wins big with Jamie Malonzo acquisition as NorthPort Batang Pier trades away another potential franchise cornerstone

On the eve of the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner's Cup, Barangay Ginebra's acquisition of Jamie Malonzo from NorthPort Batang Pier already promises to be a real coup. PBA Media Bureau

Less than 24 hours after approving a multi-team deal that sent Calvin Oftana to TNT Tropang Giga, the PBA on Tuesday greenlit two separate trades that will see forward Jamie Malonzo and guard Von Pessumal head on over to Barangay Ginebra.

Ginebra received Malonzo from NorthPort Batang Pier, who in turn acquired the rights to forward Arvin Tolentino, big man Prince Caperal, and a first round pick from the 2022 (Season 48) draft.

The second deal involved a third team in San Miguel Beermen, who sent out Pessumal to the Batang Pier in exchange for two second-round selections in the 2024 (Season 50) and 2025 (Season 51) drafts.

NorthPort then traded away Pessumal to the Gin Kings, who in return sent guards Jeff Chan and Kent Salado to the Batang Pier.

ESPN analyzes the multi-team trade and what this means for the teams and players involved.

BARANGAY GINEBRA

Malonzo (averages of 17.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 1.4 blocks in the 2022 Philippine Cup) is a heck of a get for the Gin Kings, who are adding an elite, multi-dimensional defender to a squad that looked lean and inconsistent at the 3 and 4 spots before his arrival.

The 6-foot-7 forward's combination of athleticism and physical tools is the biggest draw here, as he leverages his wingspan and leaping ability to pick pockets, disrupt passing lanes, and contest shots with ease as a primary or help defender. So far, Malonzo has averaged over a steal and a block in each of the three conferences he has played in across 35 games.

Malonzo's defensive versatility through four positions at PBA level is incredibly valuable, especially when you pair that alongside elite rim protector Japeth Aguilar or bruising big man Christian Standhardinger (or, in a lot of instances, alongside both of them in supersized lineups, though the offensive spacing and fit in those units might leave a lot to be desired).

He's able to bother smaller guards and like-sized wings thanks to his foot speed and length, both of which also come in handy when faced in situations where he has to use his strength to take on PBA 4s and perimeter-heavy imports.

Per InStat, only 28 players last conference have contested over ten shots a game; only one fared better than Malonzo -- whose assignments only shot 33.9% from the field with him as the primary defender. Not too shabby.

Malonzo improving his three-point stroke (30.3% on 4.5 attempts a game) is a safe bet, but he'll also have to show he's capable of being able to score in other ways in the halfcourt.

Malonzo scored a monster 1.33 points per possession in transition, but he only managed a subpar 0.84 PPP when tasked to find his offense in the halfcourt (league average was 0.87 PPP). He also doesn't have a ton of variety on his finishes at the rim; Malonzo shot 77 percent on dunks and lobs, but only a meager 47.5% on other shots at the rim.

The other acquisition, Pessumal, can prove to be just as important later on.

We haven't seen much of Pessumal lately, but his 2019 season should be closer to the idealized version of the 29-year-old, who made a whopping 40.6% of his 3.8 attempts from deep in limited minutes (15.0 a game) through 60 contests that year.

If given more playing time, there's no reason to believe Pessumal won't thrive on a team with a bevy of offensive stars who can preoccupy an entire defense's attention and get the former Ateneo guard a bunch of clean looks from the perimeter.

NORTHPORT BATANG PIER

The Batang Pier continue their trend of giving away potential franchise cornerstones, with Malonzo joining the likes of Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle, and Mo Tautuaa as big names traded away to a San Miguel Corporation (SMC) team for additional roster depth and draft equity.

Those bets paid off to a degree, but they still don't justify the decision-making of a NorthPort franchise that has only managed to cobble together two semifinals appearances and one season finish at above .500 through its first nine seasons in the PBA.

On the bright side, NorthPort can serve as a jumping pad for these players to elevate their game -- and parlaying a bona fide future All-Star for more depth might end up being a winning gamble.

Chan and Salado provide ancillary depth to a backcourt dominated by Robert Bolick and Roi Sumang, while Caperal's ability to space the floor at the 4 and 5 spots should be a nice wrinkle for the Batang Pier frontcourt, especially if he shoots as well as he did in 2020 (average of 7.8 points on 42.0% shooting from deep).

But the prized addition here is Tolentino.

Tolentino's career numbers (averages of 6.3 points, 2.5 rebounds on 34.9% from the field, 30.4% from deep) might look underwhelming at first glance, but that belies the upward trajectory he's been taking with Ginebra before being traded away.

The former FEU star simply plays winning basketball. Per Stats by Ryan, Ginebra outscored opposing squads by 18.4 points whenever he was on the floor last conference -- a top figure among all players - and lost by 5.7 points when he sat. That's a swing of 24.1 points -- second only to TNT's Jayson Castro.

Tolentino looked like he was rounding into form last conference. Despite being largely inefficient inside the arc, Tolentino's sweet stroke from deep, where he hit 35.0% of his 7.5 attempts (fourth-highest) made him an above average scorer (11.9 points on 53.8 TS%) who greased Ginebra's offense with some much-needed spacing and tertiary scoring off of catch-and-shoot shots and handoffs.

His absence was sorely felt down the stretch last conference. The Gin Kings were 6-2 when he played, but went 3-3 the rest of the way and got bounced in the quarterfinals following a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the rest of the tournament.

On a NorthPort team with inconsistent producers from the 3 and 4 positions, Tolentino has a chance to showcase the offensive versatility he has been teasing since college by diversifying his shot profile and creating more offense beyond his three-point shooting in a bigger role.

SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN

Since drafting June Mar Fajardo and Alex Mallari with the first and third overall selections in the 2012 draft, only four of San Miguel's next 22 picks are currently on a PBA roster.

A couple of bad NorthPort seasons in 2024 and 2025 could put the Beermen in a good position to draft early in the second round, but that will depend on the quality of the draft and SMB roster-building priorities.

As it stands, San Miguel's history of choosing to build a roster through trades rather than via the draft -- coupled with the fact that they're not exactly a team that drafts well -- might mean that these picks would be nothing more than additional assets for future deals.