WITH Tim Cone now calling the shots for Barangay Ginebra, a close friend of Sol Mercado is hoping the star guard can finally snare an elusive first PBA championship under the league's most successful coach.
Rain or Shine guard Gabe Norwood said he shares the frustration of Mercado, a high-scoring guard who, since they parted ways in 2010, has not come close to a league title while being shipped from one team to another.
“Sol has been unlucky, he got traded. He’s been there, he’s just not been getting the break (he needs),” said the versatile Gilas Pilipinas wingman of his former roommate.
Mercado could have won three titles already had he not been traded at the worst possible time by his former teams Rain or Shine, which ruled the 2012 Governors’ Cup, and San Miguel Beer, which won two championships last season.
Norwood, however, feels Mercado is in the best possible position to end the championship drought now that Cone - winner of 18 titles including an unprecedented two grand slams - is calling the shots for Ginebra.
With his ball-handling skills, quickness and decent perimeter game, Mercado should play an integral role as Cone looks to end a Ginebra drought that extends all the way to the 2008 season.
But more than that, Norwood feels Mercado's evolution from a high-scoring slasher to a pass-first combo guard will make him a perfect asset for Cone's triangle offense.
At this point in his career, Mercado, a seven-year veteran, is all about winning, Norwood said.
“I know where Sol is now. He wants to win. He hasn’t been in the finals, he hasn’t won a championship. So that’s what he is right now. He wants to get a championship,” Norwood told Spin.ph.
“I think (Sol fits coach Tim’s system). He has adapted now, his game has changed wherein he’s only trying to win. Coach Tim is proven so I think he has all the stuff (to win) in his system.
Coach Tim is a great coach, he is not put on a situation where he cannot help a team in succeeding.”
And is the long wait soon to be over for Sol?
“I hope so," said Norwood. "But it’s not on one player. It has to be the right situation and team has to rise."