By JONAS TERRADO
TNT made a significant move for the first time since winning the PBA Philippine Cup with the addition of former Alaska forward Gab Banal.
Team manager Gabby Cui confirmed late Sunday that the Tropang Giga had signed Banal, who declined the Aces’ offer of a one-conference extension following a solid showing in the All-Filipino tournament.
No further details were revealed but the deal allowed TNT to add another significant piece to its title-winning roster in the 6-foot-3 Banal.
Banal is expected to be a key asset for TNT, which captured the first conference crown after needing five games to defeat Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the championship series.
Having a solid player like Banal is something the Tropang Giga will take, especially after Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer bolstered their lineups through trades.
The 31-year-old was signed by Alaska last February after emerging as one of the best players outside of the PBA.
Prior to joining the Aces, Banal had a forgettable PBA stint with the GlobalPort Batang Pier before building a name for himself as a star in the D-League, MPBL and the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3.
He made a solid impression during the previous conference, playing all 11 games for the Aces and averaged 8.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
Banal scored a conference-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting in Alaska’s 89-80 loss to Meralco on July 31 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Alaska finished 11th in the eliminations with a 3-8 record, ending a streak of seven consecutive quarterfinal appearances.
It was also the Aces’ worst record since posting a similar win-loss tally in the 2017 Governors’ Cup.