A LOT of fans were surprised, and understandably so, when news came out that Matt Salem ended up signing to play for Blackwater instead of Barangay Ginebra this PBA season.
Salem, after all, was Ginebra's lone pick in the last PBA Rookie Draft and had received positive words from coach Tim Cone after he was taken at No. 12 in the third round.
“I thought he will go late first round, early second,” Cone said then of the former National University standout. “When he was available for us in the third, it was a no-brainer.”
So how did he end up at Blackwater?
Salem said he wasn't cut or released by Ginebra after weeks with the team. Instead he was given a one-year offer to be a practice player which he politely declined.
Why? Well, Salem simply felt a practice player has a slim chance of breaking into the lineup of a team as deep as Ginebra.
"I declined the offer of playing one year as a practice player because of the given fact that they already have a very big and deep roster," Salem said in a message to SPIN.ph.
The former La Salle player asked - and was given - permission by Ginebra coaches to try his luck with other teams, including Blackwater.
Just days before the start of the season, he signed a one-year deal with Blackwater.
The league's most popular team ended up signing former Jose Rizal University scorer and Columbian draftee Teytey Teodoro to a one-conference contract.