MANILA – Nard John Pinto is headed to his third team in less than a week after Phoenix Fuel Masters traded him to Meralco Bolts days before the start of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday.
The Fuel Masters decided to let go of the former Arellano University Chiefs guard in exchange for Bolts’ second round pick after failing to strike a deal for a contract extension.
Pinto also did not show up in Fuel Masters’ practices since he was traded from the Blackwater Elite last Monday and was also not present in Phoenix’s tune up game against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings last Thursday.
Pinto, who has a career season with the Elite last year, could have a hard time having a decent minutes at the point guard heavy Bolts, which also has Baser Amer, Mike Tolomia, rookie Trevis Jackson and Ilonggo Anjo Caram in its lineup.
Bolts, meanwhile, have strengthen its frontline after picking up veteran forward Gabriel Espinas, who became free agent after being released by NorthPort Batang Pier recently.
“We’re able to sign up Gabby Espinas to strengthen our big men,” said Meralco Board of Governor Al Panlilio. “But he will not be playing at least until February as he came off a knee surgery.”
The move is sort of a homecoming for the 37-year-old Espinas after previously playing for the team from 2010 to 2012. He had also played for six other teams including San Miguel Beermen, where he won five PBA titles.
Espinas became the casualty of the Batang Pier youth movement as it opted to sign younger big men in Bradwyn Guinto and Joseph Gabayni and rookie free agent Jomari Sollano./PN