MERALCO has decided to let go of Iranian import Benny Koochoie and has brought in Japanese point guard Seiya Ando to reinforce the Bolts in the ongoing PBA Governors Cup.
Bolts team manager Paolo Trillo said Koochoie had some unresolved issues with his Iranian team Gorgan that has kept him from suiting up in the ballclub's first two games.
His spot has now been taken up by Ando, a cat-quick guard out of Meiji University who was the teammate of Barako Bull big import Liam McMorrow in the National Basketball League-Canada, where they helped Halifax Rainmen to a runner-up finish.
The boyish-looking Ando averaged 10.2 points, 3.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 30 games for the Rainmen, including an NBL-Canada career-high 27 points in Game Six of the Finals.
However, it is still uncertain if the 22-year-old Japanese playmaker can suit up for Meralco on Wednesday in a game against NLEX, given the tedious paper work that needs to be completed for his release.
For one, Trillo said the Bolts still have to take care of the 5,000 Canadian dollars fine slapped on Ando by NBL-Canada for being part of the Halifax squad that walked out of Game Seven of the finals just over a week ago.
“According to the NBL rules, all the players who walked out will have to pay the fine. So it’s not just the team that was slapped with the fine,” explained Trillo.
“So we (Bolts) have to pay the fine first before he (Ando) can get the clearance.”
And since Meralco will be dealing with a league in a different time zone, Trillo said it will take a while before the clearance could be released.
“The hard part of it is the (papers) have to pass through four offices because once the clearance is released by his (Canadian) team, then the clearance will first have to be sent to the NBL, then the league will send it to Fiba, then Fiba will send it to SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas), then our SBP will send it to the PBA,” he said.
“By that time, the PBA can make the endorsement for Ando’s work visa. So we’re hopeful he can make it in time for Wednesday’s game,” he added.