MERALCO coach Ryan Gregorio said he is happy to reunite with Kerby Raymundo, saying his former player at Purefoods is a proven winner who has a lot of basketball left in his tank.
Speaking after the deal that sent Raymundo from Barangay Ginebra to Meralco in a one-on-one swap for JR Reyes was completed, Gregorio admitted that the veteran Raymundo is the "final piece" in a major revamp that had the Bolts wheeling and dealing in a frenetic offseason.
"Kerby brings a lot of positives to our dynamics," said Gregorio, who won three championships with Purefoods during Raymundo's glory years in the league from 2002 to 2010.
"He knows how to win ... We've won championships together and it is a proven positive chemistry."
[For full story on trade, see Ginebra sending Raymundo to Meralco in one-on-one swap for JR Reyes]
Raymundo is only 32, but he has logged a lot of mileage in the league having turned pro at 19 with Red Bull. The 6-5 native of Bataan has also been plagued by injuries - the latest a knee injury that took the momentum away after a brief resurgence under Al Chua in the Commissioner's Cup.
Still, Gregorio is positive Raymundo's best years are still ahead of him - something which he hopes to harness as he bids to win a first championship for the MVP-owned franchise.
"He still has a lot of basketball left in his tank," the Bolts coach said of the two-time Mythical First Team member and Finals MVP of the 2002 Governors Cup.
At the same time, Gregorio said he hopes the 12-year veteran can serve as a mentor to Rabeh Al-Hussaini, the enigmatic center who Meralco acquired from sister team Talk 'N Text in a three-team trade.
"I am hoping that Kerby, being a veteran, mature, and a proven winner can mentor Rabeh," Gregorio said. "I am certain that he would be more than willing to act as big brother to Rabeh and even to Cliff Hodge."
Gregorio said he was sad to part with Reyes but pointed out that he was the only player in their lineup who could complete the deal for Raymundo.
"Ginebra is not a bad team to go to. I am certain that he will find stability there. I wish him well."