SAN MIGUEL Beer's cat-quick guard Chris Bancehro has agreed to jopin the PBA D-League Foundation Cup champion Blackwater, the Fil-Italian guard's first step in fulfilling his dream of eventually playing in the PBA.
Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy said Banchero has agreed to join the Elite, at least for the upcoming D-League conference in the latter part of this year, to bolster their quest for back-to-back titles.
"I am very delighted that Chris Banchero approached us to be his D-League team in his dream to join the PBA. I appreciate very much the San Miguel Beer management for recommending Blackwater to be his D-League team," Sy said on Monday.
Banchero will receive the maximum monthly salary of P30,000 while playing for his new team.
The Blackwater top honcho said the 6-1 point guard is set to display his wares for the Elite when they play in a three-game series with collegiate teams in Bacolod City this week.
The Elite, who leave for Bacolod on Wednesday, plays West Negros University and University of San Agustin, this week.
However, UST standouts Jeric Teng and Clark Bautista won't be joining Blackwater in Bacolod since the Tigers will have resumed playing in the second round of the eliminations of the UAAP season by then.
Despite the absence of his key players, Sy expressed confidence since the Elite still has the veteran core of Justin Chua, Robby Celiz, Pari Llagas and Gio Ciriacruz, along with Kristian Palma and Bacon Austria.
Rejoining the team is former Growling Tiger guard Jeric Fortuna, who left the team during the middle of the D-League Foundation Cup to join San Miguel Beer in the ABL.
Early last July, the 24-year-old Banchero already began arranging his papers for Filipino citizenship as part of the requirement for Fil-foreign players who wish to play in the PBA, Asia’s first professional basketball league.
Aside from getting his citizenship documents in order, Banchero has to play at least two conferences in the D-League since he's still below 25 years old, an eligibility rule required for Fil-foreign players joining the PBA Draft.
The Filipino-Italian was recently named Finals MVP after steering the Beermen to a three-game sweep of deposed champion Indonesia Warriors for their first-ever ABL title.
Banchero, who played college basketball at Seattle Pacific University, a US NCAA division II School, was born to an Italian father and Filipino mother, the former Jacqueline Guerrero.
He was raised in Seattle by the maternal side of his family, before eventually playing for the Beermen in the ABL last year.