YENG Guiao's iconic line, 'May pagkakaiba ba maximum namin sa maximum ng ibang teams' reverberates to this day, at a time when the PBA is grappling with a slew of free-agent transfers that are seen as a threat to league parity.
The veteran coach, however, was more subdued on the day his NLEX side lost unrestricted free agent Jericho Cruz to San Miguel Beer.
"If that's what he wanted, then I'm happy for him," said Guiao when asked about the departure of Cruz, who upon the expiration of his old NLEX contract on Tuesday signed a three-year contract with the Beermen organization.
Cruz's decision to leave was no longer a surprise, actually, since the 6-foot-1 bruiser out of Adamson had sounded off on an impending move after he bid the Road Warriors goodbye in a Twitter post on Friday.
Guiao also admitted he had an inkling that the business of signing Cruz to a new contract wouldn't be as straightforward as previous signings after the 31-year old held off on any new agreement until the end of his old deal.
'A good offer'
Concurrently the general manager of Road Warriors, Guiao said the company made its best effort to keep Cruz and gave him a 'very good offer.'
The multi-titled coach declined to go into detail, although at least two sources confirmed to SPIN.ph that the free agent was offered a lucrative contract under the league's maximum of P420,000 a month spread over two years.
On Tuesday, Cruz signed a three-year deal with San Miguel, reuniting him with his college coach Leo Austria.
Did he feel bad, Guiao was asked.
Guiao, who had a long relationship with Cruz dating back to the time he selected him at No. 9 overall for Rain or Shine in the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft, said he will never stand in the way of his player's progress.
"Ever since, ako naman hindi ko hahadlangan ang player kung saan s'ya masaya," said Guiao. "I don't know if more than monetary, [Jericho] feels San Miguel gives him a chance to win a championship or other opportunities. But if that's what he wants, I won't stand in the way of his happiness."
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