Trade to NorthPort a homecoming for Sol Mercado
MANILA, Philippines—Sol Mercado has played for six different PBA teams, most notably with Barangay Ginebra where he won three championships, since joining the league in 2008.
But there was one franchise Mercado treated as his first home in Philippine basketball and that’s NorthPort.
Mercado first played Philippine basketball with the franchise when it was still in the defunct Philippine Basketball League carrying Harbor Center name from 2007 to 2008.
And after the trade the Gin Kings shipped him to the Batang Pier on Tuesday, Mercado couldn’t help but feel some sort of homecoming.
“I’ve been in this organization before, this was actually the first organization I was with when I first went to the Philippines,” said Mercado after the Batang Pier outlasted Rain or Shine, 107-105, in overtime in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The 35-year-old guard was traded by Ginebra along with Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz in exchange for Stanley Pringle.
Mercado’s return to the franchise also marks the third time that he will be a Batang Pier in the PBA after playing for the club in two different occasions in 2013 to 2014 as part of the “MMDA” group with Willie Miller, Gary David, and Japeth Aguilar.
“It’s kind of nice, it’s a welcome back kind of thing, and those guys are very welcoming,” said Mercado who played for the Gin Kings from 2015 to 2019.
Mercado immediately showed his all-out support for his new team and so far, he’s liking what he’s seen.
The Batang Pier were down by as much as 25 points, 84-59, in the third quarter only to come roaring back to force OT.
Moala Tautuaa, who had a career-high 34 points, finished things off for NorthPort with a dagger three for the 107-102 lead with 26.4 seconds left.
“Down 20, they never gave up and obviously that comes from the head coach,” said Mercado, referring to Pido Jarencio, who was once a player for Ginebra 1992 to 1998 and playd with the legendary Robert Jaworksi.
“He came from that never-say-die culture, and they (players) kind of followed his lead and it was amazing.”
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