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PBA: RoS to keep core intact

It’s going to be a busy off-season for Rain or Shine as management – upon the recommendation of coach Yeng Guiao – will try to retain the team’s core that won the previous PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

A total of 10 RoS players will have their respective contracts expired on Aug. 31, including guards Paul Lee, Jericho Cruz and Jeric Teng, forwards Gabe Norwood and Jireh Ibañes, frontliners Beau Belga, JR Quiñahan, Raymond Almazan and Jewel Ponferada, and reserve player Ronnie Matias.

“Of course, si coach Yeng ang gusto niya ma-retain lahat ng players, walang mababawas or walang mawawala,” said Rain or Shine official Mamerto Mondragon yesterday. “So we’ll try to sign all of them.”

The former PBA chairman said that negotiation would start next week, hoping to sign the players extended contracts.

If the two parties will not decide, they can still continue to renegotiate even after the season as the team holds the rights to a player – unless he is traded.

The season-ending Governors’ Cup is set to start July 15 and ends middle of September.

The contracts of players with Aug. 31 expiration will automatically be extended to 15 days, said player-agent Danny Espiritu, who has six expiring RoS players on the list – Belga, Quiñahan, Almazan, Cruz, Ponferada and Ibañes.

Guiao, the architect of the two Rain or Shine championships, wants all his players back on the RoS unit for next season in anticipation of what he thinks a shallow list of PBA aspirants in the 2016 Rookie Draft.

This is because several top amateur stalwarts – like Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo, Jio Jalalon and even Fil-Am Ray Parks – are reportedly being eyed for Gilas program for 2016. If that happens, these players will not be eligible for the coming Rookie Draft.

“If they’ll pass up, mababaw talaga ang Draft,” said Guiao. “So instead of relying on the Draft to strengthen the team, I’ll just retain the team that I have now. That’s the plan. Hindi ka makaka-build up from the Draft now.”

Guiao also mentioned that he is not open to trades, as he would prefer keeping an intact roster.