OBVIOUSLY, Metrobank cagers will have the edge in next year's episode of the Oro Bankers hoopfest with the impending departure of Banco de Oro ace Stephen Go to New Zealand.
In a sense, that flaming discussion came alive again in the recent victory party of BDO team at a private resort in Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City.
"Yes, our team will be affected. But we'll try to find another player in Pepen's (Go) caliber," said Coach Jessie Tolod.
"BDO is known to find a way. So, we can recruit anytime," added team-playing manager Alvin Pastor, though he quickly regressed "you know it's really hard to find another Stephen Go. He's but exceptional...a clutch go-to-guy shooter."
Veteran guard Anton Pabillore, famous for his backcourt tandem with PBA legend Johnny Abarrientos during the FEU (Far Eastern University) Tamaraws days in UAAP, then wisely interrupted if only to appease his comrades quitely bothered at the thought of losing their leading scorer to "greener pasture" in the inter-bank rivalry.
"Naay mga batan-on nga promising. Kusog moaway pa gihapon `ning atong linya next year," encouraged Pabillore.
In his farewell performance, the do-it-all Go scored 18 points including a baseline jumper in the dying seconds that paved the way for BDO's title-repeat over hottest rival Metrobank, 68-65 in the 3rd Oro Bankers basketball tournament championship on October 23 at Barangay Macasandig covered court.
Metrobank, however, faced BDO in another epic title showdown without its reliable veterans in Erwin Raagas and Charome Marte, thus leaving the burden of stinging defeat at the hands of streak-shooting Philip James Sanchez, old dependable Janjan Hengania and new 6-foot-4 center Chris John Lim.
"Nabuhian niya ang bola. But Stephen is always lucky. Iyang na-recover ug na-convert as another dagger to Metrobank's own title quest," recalled Tolod.
Still available to defend BDO's crown in 2020 are sharpshooter Ferdinand Pacio Valencia, Anton Pabillore, Kenson Cabahug, Roleon Carretas, Aian Pagalan, Noel Jj Yaranon, Alvin Pastor, Allen Tabuclaon, Francis Ruiz, Elton Lagasca, coach Jessie Tolod and maybe the still "confused" Jun Murillo.