CHICAGO - Like the many other personnel decisions he had to make during the course of his decorated career, TNT head coach Chot Reyes struggled with this one.
"Troy Rosario is one of my favorite players. He is very talented and low-maintenance," Reyes told me in a recent telephone interview.
Eventually, Reyes had to reluctantly pull the trigger on a Rosario trade because his job requires him to put his emotions aside for the welfare of the team.
Acquiring Calvin Oftana, a rising star and three-level scorer from sister team NLEX, makes the Tropang Giga "younger and better," Reyes explained.
"I called him before the trade was even approved. I want him to hear about the news directly from me. It was a tough decision. But in this business, we are all on borrowed time," added the nine-time PBA champion.
Reyes, 59, looked back fondly at his three-conference run with Rosario, a collaboration that saw them enter the Finals twice and winning a championship once.
Those merry memories could come in handy for Troy while he is exiled to Blackwater, a sorry franchise notorious for lengthy losing streaks and a hearty appetite for trading away their best assets.
It's a bad fall for good guy Troy. From penthouse to the outhouse.
AND IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.
Rosario, sources told me, had an offer to play in the Japan B.League last August when his contract was about to expire.. He would have been paid $25,000 a month for three years.
Troy stiff-armed the foreign courtship and instead signed a three-year extension with TNT worth around $13,000 a month.
"I talked to him about it," said Reyes, who told me he was aware of the overseas offer but couldn't confirm the value of the Japan contract.
Troy eventually chose family, loyalty, and the simple joy of playing on home soil over money and the allure of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Of course, Troy couldn't have imagined this detour to Blackwater.
And how he's handled the uncomfortable twist of fate speaks of his character as a gentleman and a professional.
"Troy is such a hard worker in practice and a mentor to our bigs. He taught Barkley Ebona some finishing moves the day after we lost to Bay Area," Blackwater head coach Ariel Vanguardia told SPIN.ph.
And while losing No. 1 draft pick Brandon Rosser brought a sense of loss because he provided "a lot of intangibles," Vanguardia is excited with how the trade turned out.
"Troy is definitely a blessing in disguise with Gab Banal added in the mix, too."
And given what Blackwater has been going through these days, the Lord knows the Bossing need plenty of those blessings.
THE JOY OF TROY. In his first game since the trade, Troy played like the former Top 10 player in the PBA that he was, draining 15 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.
At age 30, the 6-foot-7, 218-pound Rosario is clearly still one of the best power forwards in the game.
My sources around the league are telling me it won't be long until Rosario meanders his way back to the MVP group.
Which is only appropriate.
Because a good and a loyal soldier like Troy Rosario deserves better.