By JONAS TERRADO
Two players will be playing for different teams by the time the PBA Governors’ Cup resumes after taking advantage of the league’s new unrestricted free agent rule that took effect at the start of the year.
Rodney Brondial took the initial route, leaving the Alaska Aces less than a month into the season-ending conference to sign and reunite with college coach Leo Austria at San Miguel Beer.
On the other hand, Nards Pinto bid goodbye to the Meralco Bolts amid the best season of his career in order to add more depth to talent-laden Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Both players’ contracts expired after Dec. 31, opening the door for them to invoke the new rule which allows players to become unrestricted free agents after seven seasons in the league.
The two San Miguel Corporation teams were able to scoop up two reliable players who could boost their title bids in the Governors’ Cup currently on an indefinite pause due to the COVID-19 surge.
Brondial has played for Ginebra, which selected him sixth overall in the 2014 draft, Barako Bull, Phoenix, Magnolia and Alaska, the team he has played since the 2019 Governors’ Cup.
He averaged 8.3 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Aces during this season’s Philippine Cup and was producing 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in five games in the Governors’ Cup before opting to sign with SMB.
At SMB, Brondial will play under Austria, his coach when he played for Adamson in the UAAP.
Pinto is in the midst of a breakout season, posting 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals for Meralco in the Philippine Cup and has averaged 9.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the Governors’ Cup which saw the Bolts start the conference at 2-0.
But now, Pinto will be tasked to help fill up some of the void by Stanley Pringle, who has been ruled out of the conference due to a knee injury.
“We wanted to provide depth to our guard position because of Stanley’s absence,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone. “We like him because he brings a lot of toughness and experience to the position.”