EVEN with another reliable big man falling by the wayside, Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio remained closed to the idea of signing someone who could plug the hole in the Bolts’ injury-plagued frontline.
Meralco’s casualty list grew even longer on Tuesday when veteran forward Reynel Hugnatan sprained his left ankle just two minutes into the Bolts' match against powerhouse Barangay Ginebra.
As it is, newly-acquired forward Kerby Raymundo has yet to play a single game this season owing to a knee injury while Fil-American sophomore Cliff Hodge is still out with a sprained right ankle.
Still, the Bolts’ undersized roster showed up with a big, fighting heart, pulling the rug from under the fancied Gin Kings, 100-87, handing the league’s most popular squad its first loss of the season in the process.
Asked about his depleted frontline afterwards, Gregorio said he would rather give opportunities to his rarely used big men at this point than look for help from the free-agent market.
“To be honest with you, not yet (hiring another big man). I’m giving opportunities to my other players who are not really used a lot like James Sena,” explained Gregorio.
Gregorio’s comment means the Meralco door is still shut for two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso, an unrestricted free agent who is being eyed by one of the two teams under the PLDT umbrella.
Meralco assistant coach Jong Uichico has confirmed to Spin.ph that he’s already made a recommendation to sign the 6’5” Ildefonso, his former ward at San Miguel.
But apparently, Gregorio is still not sold to the idea.
“Don (Allado) is coming from sickbay so that’s why I did not use him (against Ginebra)," Gregorio said. "So at this point, not yet (open to getting a free agent big man).”
Meralco’s board governor Mon Seguismundo said the team needs a “compelling slotman” who can match up with Petron’s 6’10” center June Mar Fajardo and Ginebra’s 6’11” rookie slotman Greg Slaughter.
By his standards, Ildefonso doesn't fit the mold.
“I think we need a compelling five (center) because he (Ildefonso) is an underpowered five,” Seguismundo said, while watching the Meralco-Ginebra game on Tuesday night.