INSTEAD of resentment against his former team, KG Canaleta said he is grateful to Mahindra for releasing him without any conditions and giving him the opportunity to shop around for another ballclub to play for.
The search ended with Globalport signing the veteran ‘stretch four’ to a one-year contract for the entire 42nd season of the PBA. Canaleta already played his first game for the Batang Pier in the ongoing Philippine Cup in a 97-75 thrashing of ironically, the Floodbuster.
The 35-year-old product of University of the East had decent numbers of nine points, 11 rebounds, and three assists while playing 31 minutes in his debut with Globalport.
While admitting the win was a ‘must’ for him, it doesn’t mean he had an ax to grind against Mahindra, which declined to renew his contract during the offseason, automatically making him an unrestricted free agent.
“Para sa akin competition yan, kaya every game naman must-win,” he said. “”Siyempre, hindi mo rin gustong matalo ka against sa former team mo. Pero nothing personal, hindi naman masama ang loob ko.”
Hopes were high for Mahindra at the conclusion of last season as the franchise made its first ever playoff appearance during the Governors Cup.
But then the unthinkable happened.
One by one, the Floodbuster began dealing away the very same players credited for the team’s success. They traded Aldrech Ramos to Star, rising big man Bradwyn Guinto to NLEX, and recently re-signed guard Paolo Taha to Barangay Ginebra.
Canaleta said he was supposed to be on the trading block, too.
“Naghihintay kami. Trade dapat, pero hindi natuloy,” he said.
To management’s credit, it was honest enough to admit that it can’t afford the previous max contract of Canaleta – or at least close to it. And with the planned trade failing to materialize, Mahindra deemed it best to just let go of the veteran journeyman.
That he was given up by the team which he led in scoring last season didn’t come as a surprise to him.
“Hindi na ako nagulat kasi sinabi na rin naman nila sa akin,” he recalled his previous agreement with the franchise. “In a way, tulong na rin nila sa akin, na hindi nila ako iipitin para makahanap din ako ng interesadong team (sa akin).
“Nagtulungan na lang kami, kasi hindi naman kami nagkasundo.”
Like the rest in the league, Canaleta admitted being left perplexed by the Floodbuster’s decision to unload some of their best players despite coming off the most successful season in the young franchise’s history.
Still, he said Mahindra management may have other plans for the season.
“Management’s decision yun. Hindi ko alam ano ang plano nila, respect na lang natin yun,” he said.
Unfortunately, that plan no longer includes KG.
For the meantime, life goes on for him with new team GlobalPort.