by Waylon Galvez
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said his team is in no hurry to sign new players amid rumors that the Bolts are negotiating with veteran center Danny Ildefonso, who was reportedly released by Petron Blaze last weekend.
Asked to comment about the possibility of adding Ildefonso to the mix, Gregorio said there’s no plan at the moment as he wants to give other players some playing time from the vacuum left by veteran forward Reynel Hugnatan who was injured.
“To be honest, not yet, I’m giving opportunities on my other players who are not really used a lot,” Gregorio said after Meralco dealt Barangay Ginebra its first defeat with a 100-87 win last Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A source said that Ildefonso is close to signing a one-year contract with the Bolts.
The source, who requested anonymity, said that it’s just a matter of time before the two sides agree after the former two-time PBA Most Valuable Player passed a medical test.
“He’s healthy, he’s in shape. Now they are just finalizing the contract,” said the source, who is privy to the negotiations.
The same source added that Ildefonso may still get a huge contract that will pay him a monthly salary of close to R350,000.
Talk ’N Text, Meralco’s sister-team owned by telecommunications mogul Manny V. Pangilinan, was the first to inquire on Ildefonso’s status. TNT just signed Ildefonso’s former SMB teammate Danny Seigle to a one-year deal.
In Meralco’s win, Gregorio praised backup forward James Sena, who had seven points in 15 minutes after he took the place of Hugnatan.
The veteran Hugnatan sprained his left ankle in the first period of the game against Ginebra, and Gregorio said his starting forward may be out for three weeks.
Hugnatan’s injury was another blow to Meralco’s frontline, which already lost Cliff Hodge and Kerby Raymundo from injuries.
Hodge sprained his left ankle two weeks ago against Rain or Shine while Raymundo has yet to play after he was acquired in a trade with Ginebra for JayR Reyes.
Raymundo is still recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him in most part of last season.
“Nobody’s coming in right away,” said Gregorio.
“Kerby’s still recuperating. Hopefully he comes in the third week (of this month). Cliff another 2-3 weeks. Rey (Hugnatan) has a bad sprain, we might lose him 2-3 weeks.”
“Yes, I’m bothered, because I always want a complement of full arsenal,” added Gregorio.
Ildefonso, who will turn 37 on Monday, was reportedly released last week by Petron after his three-year deal expired last month.
Ildefonso said he does not want to retire yet and said he wants to play a year or two before calling it quits. Ildefonso entered the PBA in 1998 and won MVP awards in 2000 and 2001.