Sol Mercado and not Mac Cardona will beef up the Veterans lineup for Sunday’s All-Star showdown.
Cardona had originally been picked to be part of the shorthanded Veterans squad, but it was learned that he was booked for a flight back to Manila prior to Sunday’s game.
Instead, Cardona’s partner-in-crime at Meralco, Mercado, has been tapped for Sunday’s showcase, joining Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio, who was tapped to replace Talk ‘N Text’s Chot Reyes, who begged off from All-Star duties because of prior commitments.
Mercado will be joining teammate Asi Taulava, who was earlier named as an alternate to the Veterans team. They will be part of the squad that will also include James Yap (B-MEG), Gary David (Powerade), Arwind Santos (Petron), JC Intal (B-MEG), Gabe Norwood (Rain or Shine), Sonny Thoss (Alaska), Alex Cabagnot (Petron) and LA Tenorio (Alaska) in the lineup.
Talk ‘N Text stalwarts Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag earlier begged off from the team because of injuries and personal reasons, respectively. Tropang Texters forward Ranidel De Ocampo had been named to the team to replace them, but failed to show up for the event this weekend.
B-MEG forward Marc Pingris will also miss the game because of a fractured finger he suffered in the Commissioner’s Cup finals, although he was still on hand to join various All-Star Weekend activities.
The taller, more experienced players will be tested by their younger counterparts from the RSJ squad coached by Powerade’s Bo Perasol.
JVee Casio (Powerade), Marcio Lassiter (Petron), Dylan Ababou (Ginebra), Josh Urbiztondo (B-MEG), Rabeh Al-Hussaini (Powerade), Rico Maierhofer (Ginebra), Paul Lee (Rain or Shine), Mac Baracael (Alaska), Mark Barroca (B-MEG), and Chris Ross (Meralco) will compose the RSJ unit.
No replacement was made by the PBA to fill the void left by Japeth Aguilar, another player from Talk ‘N Text failed to show up for the All-Star Weekend. The 6-foot-9 forward was supposed to play for the RSJ squad and was a favorite to win the Slam Dunk contest.