THE acquisition of veteran guard Mike Cortez is expected to bring stability to the backcourt of a Meralco Bolts team that is currently on a winning streak in the PBA Governors Cup.
Coach Ryan Gregorio welcomed the arrival of the `Cool Cat’ in his rotation after the franchise agreed to deal the rights of big man Asi Taulava and seldom-used forward Mark Borboran to Air21 in exchange for the former La Salle playmaker and center James Sena.
"Mike will solidify our point guard rotation. But he will slowly fit in,” Gregorio told Spin.ph.
The four-player, two-team trade that has long been hanging in the balance was finally approved on Saturday by commissioner Chito Salud.
Gregorio maintained though that Cortez won’t immediately get a starting role for Meralco, especially now that the team is on the midst of a three-game winning run.
“It is not like he will come in and be inserted in the first group right away. I am sure he will provide the stability and experience,” explained the 41-year-old Meralco coach.
Prior to the trade, the 6-foot Cortez has been submitting steady numbers for the Express in the season-ending conference, averaging 9.6 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in six games.
His acquisition will give Meralco’s backcourt the steady presence it needed considering starting point guard Chris Ross has gotten off to a rough start.
The 6-foot-1 Ross, a product of McLennan Community College, is submitting just 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds, but has been issuing 6.1 assists so far in Meralco’s 4-2 win-loss record.
Cortez’s arrival at Meralco reunites him with college teammate Mac Cardona.
Meantime, Taulava’s release from the Bolts gives the 6-foot-9 Fil-Tongan an opportunity to return to the pro PBA after failing to reach a deal with Meralco last year and eventually, opted to sign up with San Miguel Beer in Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Taulava went on to help the Beermen win their first ever championship in the fledgling regional league following a three-game sweep of deposed champion Indonesia in the Finals.