AFTER getting his hands on a rival team’s top rookie prospect, Boracay Rum Waves coach Lawrence Chongson is now trying to repair his relationship with Blackwater Sports owner Dioceldo Sy.
The Bong Tan-owned franchise named Chris Banchero as its top pick in the PBA D-League draft on Thursday afternoon, ruining Blackwater's plans to sign the San Miguel Beer star in the ABL after forging a tie-up with the SMC organization.
Chongson said he values his 30-year friendship with Sy and the rest of Blackwater coaching staff which he hopes won't be strained by the tug-of-war for Banchero's services.
“Magkakaibigan kami. Hindi ko sila tataluhin. UNO (high school) days pa lang namin magkakaibigan na kami,” Chongson said. “Trabaho lang. Palit kami ng sitwasyon: sa amin si Chris at sila ang nakabunot, okay lang sa amin yun. Maiintindihan namin yun.”
Meanwhile, Banchero is set to formalize his partnership with Boracay Rhum as he is expected to meet with Chongson on Friday afternoon.
“I wanted to play for Blackwater, of course, but Boracay drafted me. They chose me as the number one pick. This is how to get to the PBA and that is to play for them,” Banchero said.
“I am a professional. I put my name in the draft. They (Boracay Rhum) got me. I was hoping Blackwater can find ways, I have a contract with them. But it didn’t happen,” he said.
“I am happy with Boracay … and I hope to play good games with them.”
Banchero has already signed a contract with Blackwater both as an endorser and player in February - a deal that now needs to be re-alligned as his rights are now owned by Boracay Rum beginning in the Aspirants Cup.
“There were some na hindi naintidihan yung sinabi ko about sa contract ni Chris with Blackwater. What I mean with null and void was in reference to the D-League (contract) … nothing more, nothing less,” said Chongson.
“Yung obligasyon ni Banchero sa Blackwater as an endorser wala na kami run. They can go on with it. Ang gusto ko lang i-stress sa D-League kontrata niya sa amin,” he added. “Hindi naming pipigilan si Chris na gawin ang trabaho niya sa Blackwater… sa labas ng D-League.”
Chongson stressed he never in any way wanted to offend the Blackwater organization.
“Sinubukan ko pa ngang i-explore ang trade with them, kaso malinaw na nakasaad sa batas ng PBA D-League (na) ‘no trading of picks and draftees.' Sinunod ko lang ang rules,” said Chongson.
In an earlier interview, PBA commissioner Chito Salud emphasized the league’s rules on draftees.
“No trading. There’s no trading in the D-League. This is the first time we have a draft. We take it one step at a time. Tignan muna natin yang rules na 'yan. Dati open recruitment tayo. Ngayon let’s be strict with the rules,” said Salud.
“Absolutely no trading allowed. If a player ceases to be committed to one team, that’s the only time he can join another team,” he said. “But for one team to have continuous rights or residual rights over a player for trading purposes, that’s not existent right now!”