And the Bolts made sure their sparkplug wasn’t going anywhere.
The Bolts signed spitfire Sol Mercado to a three-year extension, reaffirming his status as the cornerstone of the team.
Meralco team manager Virgil Villavicencio confirmed the news to InterAKTV, saying Mercado and four other players have been signed up.
“Sol has signed a three-year extension while Mark Yee was signed to a one-year offer. We also signed up Chico Lanete, Mark Macapagal, Nelbert Omolon and Yousif Aljamal,” added Villavicencio in an online interview.
Lanete and Macapagal were plucked by the Bolts in a three-way trade with the Powerade Tigers and the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.
Rookies Jason Ballesteros and Gilbert Bulawan were also signed up by the squad.
Ballesteros, the rarely-used center of the SMART Gilas-Pilipinas national team, inked a two-year deal with the squad while Bulawan was signed to a one-year contract.
But head coach Ryan Gregorio had a more interesting approach for the team’s outlook for the coming season.
“The idea is for us to perform high voltage every game,” said Gregorio.
Gregorio said he has higher expectations for his team in his second season as coach.
“Expectations are higher because I believe we made good decisions to improve our roster from last season,” said Gregorio. “Rookies Jason Ballesteros and Gilbert Bulawan as well as Bryan Faundo are all solid defenders and Macapagal is an excellent shooter and Lanete is a good backup player while Mark Yee is an asset to the team and is a good all-around player.”
But the much-awaited team up, according to Gregorio is the explosive tandem of Mercado and Cardona.
“The excitement is generated by the team up of Mercado and Cardona. Mac was injured the whole third conference and was not able to play alongside Sol. His calf injury was severe that he missed seven of our eight games, but he’s healthy now and raring to go,” added Gregorio.