WITH the influx of new blood, veteran players are always in danger of losing their spots.
As the spike in COVID-19 cases put contract signings on hold, seasoned players currently still not under contract but hoping to extend their PBA careers on pins and needles.
The PBA has yet to release its full list of unrestricted free agents, but a check done by SPIN.ph showed there are still a number of high-caliber players that teams can take a look at if they want to beef up their rosters through free agency.
Here's some of the notable veteran players who are still waiting for that call and get their careers going once again:
Mercado's the most obvious one on this list.
The 36-year-old guard has yet to play a PBA game since 2019, when he helped NorthPort make it to the semifinals of that season's Governors' Cup.
The following offseason, however, saw him traded to Phoenix in exchange for LA Revilla but he never agreed to terms with the Fuel Masters who released him to the unrestricted free agent market.
Mercado has not hooked up with another team since, But despite being 36, he remains at the top of his game as evidenced by his performances for Ginebra where he won three PBA championships.
From being that fearless slasher when he first began, he has reinvented his game to a dependable defender and a knockdown shooter - a valuable addition for any team in the hunt for a veteran to bolster their depth.
A number of fans still want to see him play - and let's hope it happens.
Mallari's name was one of the surprising omissions by Phoenix Super LPG as it chose not to re-sign the Fil-Am winger.
The No. 3 pick in the 2012 PBA Draft was still a solid contributor for the Fuel Masters inside the Clark bubble in last season's Philippine Cup, where he tallied 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 16.0 minutes of play.
Mallari is just 33, and teams who are eyeing to add length and size to their guard and wing positions surely could benefit from signing him up from the free agent pool.
Statistically, the past season was one of Rosales' best as he took the playmaking chores for Rain or Shine to heart.
The 6-foot guard showed that he can be a dependable court general, a throwback to his stellar run for the Singapore Slingers in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) as he regained confidence setting up the table for the Elasto Painters.
Rosales averaged 5.2 points on 31-percent shooting, to go with 4.0 boards and 1.8 assists in his 18.9 minutes as Rain or Shine made it through to the Philippine Cup playoffs.
However, the Elasto Painters' push to go for younger talent left him out the lineup.
Still, with what he showed in the Clark bubble, PBA teams interested in beefing up their guard spot can benefit from a steady hand like Rosales.
Like Rosales, Galliguez also enjoyed solid performance in the Clark bubble for Alaska.
The 5-foot-8 bullstrong shooter logged 2.4 points on 33-percent shooting from deep as he provided a solid spark off the bench and equally stable defense at the point.
However, an on-air collision with TNT's Ray Parks in the quarters led to a hard fall for Galliguez, who needed 20 stitches just to close a cut on his left eye as the Aces were soon shown the door.
He soon found himself a casualty of Alaska's desire to retool through the draft, leaving him without a team as the new season approaches.
The 37-year-old Arana is one of the few veterans who can still hold his own against much younger players and at the same time be a welcome locker room presence.
His role has significantly dipped through the years, and it was also the case last season for Rain or Shine, where he only played 8.7 minutes a game and averaged 2.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in the team's run to the Philippine Cup playoffs.
He may have lost a bit of a step now, but teams peppered with young guns can use a leader like Arana who can help them fasttrack their maturity.
Big men are rare commodities in the PBA, which makes Al-Hussaini's situation all the more baffling.
The 6-foot-7 former UAAP MVP was left unsigned by NLEX when he was traded to the Road Warriors from Blackwater as a part of the Poy Erram-to-TNT deal.
Al-Hussaini last played significant minutes for the Elite in the 2019 season, spending two fruitful years there before he was let go in the three-way trade.
Last time SPIN.ph checked, the former Ateneo stud was still locked down in Kuwait, missing the action in the PBA and hoping for that call to come.
But there's no question teams in dire need of size can use someone like Al-Hussaini.
Magnolia took Calisaan 10th overall in the 2018 PBA Draft but the bruising San Sebastian forward got little breaks during his time there.
Even in Clark, the 6-foot-4 banger only logged 6.2 minutes and had averages of 1.1 points and 1.7 rebounds to his name in the 2020 Philippine Cup before the Hotshots left him unsigned during the offseason.
Undersized as he may be, the 26-year-old Calisaan can still be a brute force down low, a sure boost for teams hungry to add hard-nosed players to their camp.