RYAN Gregorio insists there was nothing personal with Meralco's decision to trade superstar guard Sol Mercado and a couple of players, saying the moves were part of a rebuilding process aimed at turning the Bolts from a middle-tier team to a legitimate title contender.
“I’ve prepared myself for whatever backlash I may receive because of our move, but we’ve made a huge step in rebuilding the team,” Gregorio told Spin.ph, hours after the a trade sent Mercado, rookies Kelly Nabong and JP Belencion along with Yousef Aljamal to Globalport in exchange for swingman Rey Guevara, Josh Vanlandingham, rookie forward Vic Manuel and a 2015 first round pick.
The 6-1 playmaker out of Biola University is coming off career-highs with Meralco in the recent Philippine Cup, as he led the league in scoring with 19.1 points per contest and assists with a 6.7 average. He is the first player to be traded after leading the league in scoring and assists.
The 40-year-old Gregorio emphasized they had nothing against the 28-year-old Mercado, praising the Fil-Puerto Rican for his contributions in his close to three seasons with the team.
He insisted that management simply had to make the move for the best interest of the franchise.
“There was nothing between us and Sol because what we did was purely a change of direction. It was just unfortunate because when we looked at our roster, it’s only Sol Mercado who can command that attention (from another team),” explained Gregorio.
“But for those who view it as a setback, my decision was purely done from a basketball standpoint. Let no man be the judge. We want to embark on a rebuilding process,” he added.
Gregorio said with at least eight PBA teams boosting up their respective rosters during the offseason prior to the start of the import-laden Commissioner’s Cup, the Bolts also needed to make the move to keep pace and plug some holes.
“It’s a process and it’s what we as coaches and management have agreed to do,” he said.
“It’s a risk we’re willing to take. And definitely, it will not pay dividends this early especially with the closeness of the opening of the second conference. So we’re preparing for the worse but hoping for the best,” the four-time PBA champion coach added.