KERBY Raymundo faces the specter of retiring at a relatively young age of 32, but Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said he won’t stand in the way if the veteran forward chooses to do so.
Breaking his silence after weeks of speculations over Raymundo's future, Gregorio explained that the rehabilitation of the big man's injured left knee has not made any significant progress, preventing the 13-year pro from suiting up for the Bolts this season.
“We’ve been talking and there’s still swelling (on Raymundo’s knee). But I cannot look back,” Gregorio told Spin.ph, obviously referring to the trade pulled off by Meralco during the offseason that reunited Raymundo with his former coach at Purefoods in exchange for center Jay-R Reyes.
They Said It!
“Kerby is a man of character... you’ll never see a professional like him. He told us that as long as he’s not healthy, you don’t have to give me a contract. Not a lot of players will have a resolve like that.” - Meralco Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio
Gregorio said the 10-time All-Star declined to sign a contract with Meralco, a choice Raymundo made owing to the uncertainty of his health.
“Kerby is a man of character. Probably, you’ll never see a professional like him. He told us that as long as he’s not healthy, you don’t have to give me a contract,” explained the three-time champion coach.
“Not a lot of players will have a resolve like that.”
Raymundo, who averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 16.6 minutes of play for Ginebra last season, has told Spin.ph that he is giving himself until January 15 to decide on whether to undergo another expensive procedure on his knee or hang up his jersey.
Deep inside, however, Gregorio feels a player who won three championships during their time together at Purefoods still has a lot left in his tank if his knee issues are resolved.
“It’s hard to see someone retire when you know that there’s still a lot of good years left (in him). But it’s really up to him. I know Kerby. Kerby knows what’s best for himself and for his family,” said the Meralco coach.
The Bolts have lost three of their last four assignments in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup owing to their badly-depleted frontline that has been without Fil-Am forward Cliff Hodge.
With a healthy Raymundo, Gregorio feels the Bolts won’t be bullied around by bigger teams, the way the Alaska Aces did on Wednesday.
Sonny Thoss barreled his way in for 20 points and seven rebounds, while Gabby Espinas pulled down a career-high 23 rebounds against Meralco’s weakened frontline.
“If we have Kerby, nobody can bully us inside because he understands what it takes to win. Probably a little rebound here and there, a little physicality here and there, something that we didn’t have now,” explained the 41-year-old Gregorio.