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SEOUL – Rene Pardo breaks into laughter when told he is now the governor of a newly-formed PBA ballclub – the Star Hotshots Security Agency.
With at least five point guards manning the Hotshots’ roster, including former Rain or Shine star and recent addition Paul Lee and Gilas Cadet draftee Jio Jalalon, Pardo agrees they are indeed looking more the part of blue-clad security guards than Grand Slam champions and one-half of the league’s famed Manila Clasico sensation.
“That’s right,” says Pardo before leaving yesterday for the South Korean capital with the rest of the PBA board of governors and Commissioner Chito Narvasa for their annual planning session.
“And don’t forget Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, Justin Melton and PJ Simon, who also plays point,” he says. “That’s six.
In fact, kung di na-trade si Joe Devance (to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel), nagba-baba din ng bola yon.”
That’s 7 guards out of 12 players for Star, not to mention another ball-carrier, Alex Mallari, whose trade papers for Mahindra forward Aldrech Ramos is on Narvasa’s table for approval.
“Kaya nga marami daw nagalit nong kinuha namin si Jio; saan pa daw namin dadalhin?” says Pardo. “Pero siempre, di pa naman tapos ang galawan.”
Sources said Garcia, the former Far Eastern University stalwart could be headed for Mahindra before making a U-Turn back to the SMC group via Leo Austria’s San Miguel Beermen.
Nobody from SMC would go on the record for a confirmation or a denial, however, except to say all proposals will be forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner in the next few days.
Pardo says incoming coach Chito Victolero, who replaced Jason Webb during the off-season, personally sought out Jalalon, who led Jerry Codinera’s Arellano University Chiefs to the 2016 NCAA finals against San Beda.
Also, Pardo got incontestable endorsement for Jalalon from a most reliable person when Pardo and Star team manager Alvin Patrimonio paid their last respects to baseball great Boy Codiñera, who passed away last week.
“Kausap namin si Jerry (who played alongside Patrimonio at Purefoods)
sa lamay; ang sabi sa’min jackpot kayo ke Jalalon pag nakuha nyo sa draft,” said Pardo.
Star did, but not after triggering speculations Jalalon would end up with Ginebra for former Santo Tomas U Kevin Ferrer, which was prohibited by newly-formulated draft rules.
“Not true; there never was any plan to give away Jio once we got him,” says Pardo. “I haven’t been able to attend team practice yet, but Alvin assured me Jalalon would be a perfect fit.”
None more perfect than Paul Lee, of course.
“Ang galing daw pumasa, sabi ni Alvin, at parang di raw nagmimintis sa mga tira sa labas,” gushes Pardo, who signed up the former University of the East star to a two-year deal during the PBA Rookie Draft Sunday at Robinson’s Place in Ermita.
“Nagka-ayos na kami ng manager niya (Lawrence Chongson),” says Pardo, who offered no details of the deal but to say it was the maximum a player could get.
Pardo is now scouting around for a role player big man.