ALJON Mariano had just proven his worth with Barangay Ginebra.
The franchise deemed it best to retain the services of the 26-year-old forward after signing him recently to a fresh three-year deal.
Mariano played substantial minutes with the Kings during the PBA Governors Cup especially after stalwarts Joe Devance and Sol Mercado went down with injuries, even playing as part of coach Tim Cone’s starting unit.
In the 11 games he played in the eliminations, Mariano, a product of University of Santo Tomas, averaged 8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
He was a personal handpick of Cone during the 2015 rookie draft as the Kings’ second-round selection (16th overall) shortly after the 60-year-old mentor took over the coaching job of the team.
Mariano was part of the Kings’ last three championships, including this year’s Commissioner’s Cup when the league’s most popular ballclub stunned dethroned champion San Miguel.
Meanwhile, Blackwater also began forming the backbone of its team for next season by re-signing James Sena, Rafael Banal and Rentz Palma.
The trio all agreed to one-year deals with the Elite, who made the Governors Cup playoffs as the fifth seeded team.