SOL Mercado is determined to redeem himself after struggling in his first season with San Miguel Beer.
The 30-year-old playmaker averaged just 7.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.0 rebounds during the season-ending PBA Governors Cup - all career-lows - while shooting just 35 percent from the field.
The below-par performance after being arriving in the Beermen camp in February in a trade for Alex Cabagnot has challenged the former Biola University standout to use the long offseason to regain his old, deadly form.
Mercado said part of his ongoing trip to the United States was working out with San Miguel import Reggie Williams in Chicago, before continuing his offseason training with his longtime trainer Guss Armstead in Sacramento.
“I really wanted to dedicate this summer to improving my overall game and getting my confidence back in my strength and conditioning,” Mercado told Spin.ph on Saturday.
“I also went to Chicago to see Reggie Williams and work out with him,” he added.
Mercado arrived at the Beermen camp with high expectations as he was reunited with former Meralco teammate Chris Ross in the backcourt.
Their backcourt partnership, though, failed to produce the desired results as the Beermen struggled under active consultant Todd Purves, bombing out of the quarterfinals in each of the last two conferences.
Worse, he Beermen wasted a twice-to-beat edge in the Commissioner’s Cup after losing twice to seventh seed Air21 Express in the playoffs.
The following conference, San Miguel took an early quarterfinal exit after bowing to eventual Governors Cup champion San Mig Super Coffee.
Currently in Sacramento, Mercado said he’s working out under the watchful eyes of Armstead, who he said has trained a lot of players in the NBA.
“This is the first time I got this long at home so I was able to train with my old trainer who trains a lot of the NBA guys that play,” explained the 'Sol Train.'
“It felt good to get back in the gym with him and my old friends I grew up with,” he added.
Mercado said he intends to return to Manila soon to continue his offseason work with Kirk Collier, who has rejoined the San Miguel Corp. as San Miguel Beer and Ginebra’s skills coach.