WHEN Petron revealed its final team for the coming PBA season on Wednesday, Blaze Boosters fans were shocked not by the names in the lineup but by one man that wasn't there.
For the first time since he was acquired by San Miguel Corp.'s flagship franchise from Shell in a draft-day trade in 1998, Danny Ildefonso's name was conspicuously missing from the team's official roster.
So what happened?
Team sources revealed that the 6-5 pride of Urdaneta, Pangasinan has indeed been released by Petron after practicing for the last time with the only team he has played for in his pro career on Tuesday afternoon.
"Last day na n'ya kahapon (Tuesday)," said the source. "He's no longer part of the team."
Ildefonso has remained silent on the issue, and efforts to contact him have failed, leaving fans perplexed over his sudden disappearance from the lineup.
The two-time MVP has no plan to retire and has in fact told Spin.ph as early as June that he was looking forward to signing a new contract with Petron at the end of his contract last season.
[For full story, see Ildefonso hopeful of new contract with Petron]
However, insiders suspect he may have incurred the ire of team officials for comments he gave in an interview with gmanews.com/news/sports on deals the ballclub has made over the years, from the trades involving Danny Seigle and Dondon Hontiveros to the ouster of longtime teammate Olsen Racela as Petron coach last season.
The 15-year veteran has declined requests for an interview, but a person privy to the details said Ildefonso is now trying to meet with team officials - not to beg for a spot in the team but to apologize for whatever hurt his comments have caused.
Sources also said the many-time All-Star has no plan to move to another team and the only thing he wants at this time is to mend his relationship with his longtime team.