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    Why Mac Belo still isn't an unrestricted free agent after 7th PBA season

    Coach Yeng explains
    May 28, 2023
    yeng guiao mac belo
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    WHEN news came out that Rain or Shine has traded for Meralco's Mac Belo in exchange for Norbert Torres, astute SPIN.ph readers asked one question:

    Why would RoS trade for Belo when he was already an unrestricted free agent?

    A relevant question, since Belo was taken No. 3 overall by Blackwater in the special Gilas Pilipinas draft of the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft and, under league rules, should be an unrestricted free agent at the end of his seventh season.

    READ: Finally, PBA will have real unrestricted free agents

    The 2023 season happened to be Belo's seventh in the pro league, which should make him an unrestricted free agent and therefore free from any restriction to sign with any team he wishes to play for.

    Under such a scenario, Rain or Shine or any PBA team for that matter need not trade for Belo. All they need to do is convince him to sign a contract, right?




      Yeng Guiao to provide the answer. The Rain or Shine coach explained that the UFA rule actually counts seasons played in the league when calculating the point when a player becomes an unrestricted free agent.

      According to the league, Belo's first season with Blackwater, Guiao said, didn't count since he was on loan to the national team in 2016. Meaning the 6-3 forward will become a UFA only at the end of the 2024 season, if he does play next season.

      READ: Looking for Belo in RoS' PBA on Tour lineup?

      That goes for the other players selected in the special draft who spent time on loan to Gilas Pilipinas, either from the 2016 rookie batch or any other draft class.

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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