RYAN Gregorio admitted holding initial talks with the camp of former two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso in the wake of the injuries that ravaged the Meralco's frontcourt in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup.
But the outspoken coach was also the first to confess that Ildefonso’s history of injuries is a concern that is keeping the team from signing the two-time league MVP.
“There are initial talks with the agent, but it’s just first base, exploratory in nature,” said Gregorio. “But if there’s really one thing stopping us, it’s also his (Ildefonso) injury history."
The need to shore up its depleted frontcourt was exposed anew on Friday night when Globalport pounded Meralco, 93-89, behind big men Jay Washington and Jondan Salvador.
Ildefonso, who turns 37 next week, underwent shoulder surgery early this year while still playing for Petron. He played sparingly for the Boosters the past season as he served more as tutor to rising young center June Mar Fajardo.
The big man out of National University eventually became an unrestricted free agent last week as Petron management opted to end its 15-year partnership with its longtime franchise player through a single text message.
“You talk about all kinds of ailments, that’s why we want to be really, really sure that once we make that move (to sign Ildefonso), he’s really 100 percent healthy,” Gregorio pointed out.
For now, the Meralco coach said he wanted to test first veteran forward Kerby Raymundo, whom the Bolts acquired during the offseason following a trade with Barangay Ginebra for JayR Reyes.
The 6-foot-5 Raymundo, who won championships with San Mig Coffee when Gregorio was still the one calling the shots for the team, has yet to play for Meralco this season.
But Gregorio said he expects Raymundo to finally join the team in practice next Monday after spending several months rehabbing his injured left knee.
“He’ll (Raymundo) start practicing on Monday. He will show up. And Kerby will definitely solve a lot of problems for us,” he said.
“I just don’t know about match fitness. I don’t know if he’s ready to play at a competitive level.”
The Meralco coach said should Raymundo experience pain again during his first practice with them, he’ll be the first to tell the 32-year-old big man to delay joining the team.
“If there’s no pain, it’s okay, he’ll practice. But if there’s pain, delay a little bit again.”
For the moment, Raymundo has yet to sign a contract with Meralco since being acquired by the franchise. His old contract with Barangay Ginebra expired last October.