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Veteran slotman Aquino headed back to Meralco

February 14, 2011 5:11pm

There’s light at the end of the tunnel for veteran slotman Marlou Aquino.

The 6-foot-9, former Rookie of the Year awardee's request to play for the Meralco Bolts anew was approved Monday, less than a week before the start of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.

Aquino, who was traded to the Barako Bull last conference, wrote a letter to the PBA Commissioner’s Office, signifying his intention to play for the Bolts. His request was granted by league commissioner Atty. Chito Salud, citing the cager’s and the rest of the Energy Boosters’ case as "a special one."

“We created a special ruling for Barako Bull players because their team is currently on a leave of absence for the second conference. Those players who were not selected in the conditional dispersal draft are now considered undrafted free agents," Salud told GMA News in a telephone interview.

The second-generation commissioner added that the PBA Commissioner’s Office created a special ruling for Barako Bull players as there’s already an existing provision which states that “a player who was traded cannot go back to his previous team in less than a season."

“But these players want to get another chance to play and earn a living, so we have to give consideration as their team is also on leave," added Salud.

Salud said Meralco, which passed up on picking a player in the recent dispersal draft last week, did not violate anything as the parameters of the dispersal draft are still there, which means Aquino can be picked up by any team, including his previous squad.

Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said his team is really interested in reacquiring Aquino's services, but needed to learn more about the legality of their plan.

“Technically, he (Marlou) is covered by the PBA ruling, which prohibits players from going back to their original team in less than one season. Since we showed interest to hire Marlou (not through the dispersal draft), he had to write a letter of appeal to the PBA to suspend the earlier PBA rule, and it was granted by the commissioner," said Gregorio, who admitted he had been trying to get the 1996 Rookie of the Year ever since his coaching days with Purefoods.

A former member of the all-pro national team and a many-time All-Star, Aquino won three PBA championships — one with Ginebra and two with Sta. Lucia.

The pride of Pangasinan spent more years playing for the Realtors, from 2000 to 2010. He was absorbed by Meralco when the company bought the Sta. Lucia franchise last year.

Aquino, however, found himself part of the multi-player trade involving Reed Juntilla, Mark Isip, Ford Arao, Khazim Mirza and Pong Escobal.

With Aquino rejoining the Bolts’ squad, he will be teaming up with fellow veteran Asi Taulava, Gabby Espinsa, Mark Isip and Hans Thiele up front.

Barako to settle dues of players, coaches, staff

Barako Bull management has already submitted a list of names of the members of the team — from players, coaches and staff members — and the respective back wages these people are going to receive from their mother team.

According to Salud, the list was submitted to his office on Monday.

“What I am assuring here is that all team members, the players, coaches and staff members, will get their back wages," said Salud. “They have to give the team members’ back wages in lump sum amount, and they have to submit to the PBA a document that specifies how much amount went to this player or team member along with the team members’ conforme."

Player agent Charlie Dy, who has several players in the Energy Boosters’ fold, confirmed that his players and the rest of the team members met with Barako Bull management late last week. They were informed they will receive their back wages in due time.

“They haven’t signed anything yet, but they have already agreed on the settlement during their meeting on Thursday," said Dy in a telephone interview. - KY, GMA News
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