JERWIN Gaco can sleep well - for now.
San Mig's veteran reliever, easily the most popular bench player in the league, heaved a sigh of relief on Friday after a team official indicated he will be part of the team's protected list of players ahead of the PBA dispersal draft.
As the 2 p.m. deadline for submission of the 10 existing PBA teams protected list nears, San Mig governor Rene Pardo indicated that the team intends to put Gaco's in the list of 10 to 13 players which it will protect ahead of the July 18 dispersal draft for Kia and Blackwater.
“We will pursue to keep him here,” said Pardo.
The news is music to the ears of Gaco, a former De La Salle Green Archer who entered the league in 2005 by way of Barako Bull and has been with San Mig since 2010 as a second-, third-stringer in the frontline.
“Hay, salamat naman. Hindi ako kasama. Ilang gabi na 'kong di makatulog ng mabuti, since lumabas yung dispersal draft story," said the 33-year-old enforcer.
“Nung nag-grand slam kami, syempre, masaya ako. Kaso siyempre at the back of my head pagsumasagi sa isip ko yung dispersal draft, nalulungkot ako."
San Mig fans consider Gaco the team's 'lucky charm,' but Pardo said the reason to retain Gaco is much more than that, calling the former Archer a 'leader' and 'glue guy.'
“Hindi kasi ako naniniwala sa swerte-swerte na ganun. Hard work ang basketball. Pero what made us decide to retain Jerwin is his leadership on the bench,” said Pardo.
“Glue guy siya sa bench, taga-pump up ng players 'yan. Pag tambak kami isa siya sa mga nag-lift sa spirit ng team. Mga ganoong tulong ginagawa ni Jerwin,” he added.
Pardo also bared that Gaco is one of the most hardworking players in practice.
“Gusto ko yan si Jerwin. Sa sobrang kagustuhan nga namin, ako at ang pamilya ko nag member na rin ng Gaconatics. Walang biro, may ID ako,” said Pardo of the popular fan club for Gaco.
Pardo said the list for the team’s protected players is now being evaluated by coach Tim Cone.