RAIN or Shine indicated on Tuesday that Chris Tiu will be a major part of the team's future, coming to terms with the celebrated rookie on a three-year P9.54-million deal then shipping out gunner Ronjay Buenafe in a trade meant to free up more minutes for their freshman.
The longtime amateur star will sign on Wednesday a contract that is the highest any team can give to a rookie under the PBA's revised salary cap, giving him a monthly take of P150,000 on the first year and as much as P420,000 a month on the third and final year of the contract.
The contract signing will be held at the Asian Coatings Philippines office in the presence of team owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que, who are excited to have Tiu in their roster considering the team had no plan to use their first-round pick -- and seventh overall -- until it stumbled upon the 28-year-old former Ateneo star.
To free up room for Tiu in the team's crowded backcourt, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao shipped shooter Buenafe to Meralco in exchange for the Bolts’ 2014 first-round pick.
With Buenafe gone, Tiu now joins a backcourt where he will most likely compete for minutes with longtime pal TY Tang, national player Jeffrei Chan, Ryan Arana and Rookie of the Year Paul Lee, who will not join the team until months into the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
"We felt this trade would be a win-win situation for us and for Meralco kasi alam namin na mas magagamit dun si Ronjay,” Guiao told Spin.ph.
“Matagal na actually itong plano ng trade with Meralco. We were supposed to trade our No. 7 pick sa rookie draft, but when we saw Chris Tiu was still available, may player ng na-involve sa trade."
Guiao said the trade proposal will be submitted to the PBA office for approval.
Buenafe, a product of the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, is a top gunner who found a way to shine despite playing a reduced role after the emergence of another three-point specialist in Chan.
Buenafe had major contributions to the franchise’s conquest of a first PBA championship crown against B-Meg.
Guiao said they have no other plans to tinker with their roster after the trade with Meralco, since they would want to start the incoming season with better chemistry.