PBA: Free agent Chris Banchero joins Meralco Bolts
MANILA, Philippines—Meralco got a massive boost to its backcourt after it acquired Chris Banchero off the free agency pool Thursday.
Banchero, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 PBA Draft, declared for unrestricted free agency after his contract with Phoenix expired on Monday allowing him to choose to play for any team he wants.
Coach Norman Black on Chris Banchero: “His experience and talent are evident."
— Meralco Bolts (@MeralcoBolts) February 2, 2022
“We’re happy to have Chris join us,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black. “His experience and talent are evident, now the next step is to have him adjusted as quickly as possible. We look forward to having Chris join our next practice.”
The 33-year-old was, arguably, the Fuel Masters’ best player in the 2021-22 PBA Governors’ Cup as he led the team in scoring with 18.0 points a game along with 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.4 steals—which is the second in the league along with Matthew Wright.
Banchero’s arrival to the Bolts is a sigh of relief for the franchise after it lost John Pinto, who joined Barangay Ginebra after declaring for free agency.
Phoenix, which had Banchero for nearly a year in its books, said it offered a three-year contract to the 6-foot-1 point guard but was unable to get a commitment.
“The Phoenix Super LPG Fuelmasters would like to bid Chris Banchero good luck in his future endeavors,” posted the team. “After exhausting all efforts to retain him including a 3-year contract offer that any player would envy, sadly he will no longer represent the Phoenix team.”
“We would like to thank him for his time and hard work while playing for Phoenix, and wish him nothing but the best in his next journey.”
Banchero is the latest of the 2014 rookies to jump into unrestricted free agency following Pinto, Brondial, and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser.