ROME – Phoenix is not giving up on Sol Mercado as management is already negotiating with its new acquisition.
Team board representative Atty. Raymond Zorilla said the Fuel Masters don’t want to be unfair to the 35-year-old veteran guard that it didn’t let him practice with the team while both parties haven’t yet agreed on a contract.
“Wala pa kasi siyang kontrata kaya hindi pa siya pinag-practice,” said Zorilla at the end of the PBA Board annual planning session over the weekend. “We need to negotiate muna yung bago niyang kontrata and after which, kapag nagka-sundo na, then makakapag-practice na siya.”
Mercado’s previous contract which was assumed by NorthPort from Barangay Ginebra has expired. He was eventually dealt by the Batang Pier to the Fuel Masters in exchange for LA Revilla and Rey Guevarra.
Phoenix however, didn’t let him join the team in the early weeks of practice without the benefit of a contract yet.
“I think it would be unfair na mag-practice na siya ng walang kontrata. What if hindi naman magkasundo and hindi magka-pirmahan? It’s better na may kontrata na muna siya,” said Zorilla.
Speculations earlier abound about Phoenix not interested in retaining the services of Mercado and won’t be signing him up.
One issue of concern on the matter is the reported high salary Mercado had in his previous contract.
Although Phoenix has a surplus of players in the backcourt, Mercado’s veteran savvy and defensive plays are in tune with the system of coach Louie Alas, who put premium on the Fuel Masters being one of the league’s top defending teams.
Already part of the Phoenix’s backcourt are Alex Mallari, RJ Jazul, RR Garcia, Mike Gamboa, and new acquisition Brian Heruela.