Encho Serrano joins PSL amid free agency chase between Phoenix, Pampanga

Encho Serrano made a surprise appearance in a PSL game, but an MPBL return remains on the horizon. PSL
By Ivan Saldajeno

TIAONG—When Siomai King revealed its lineup for the PSL D2 Super Cup, an interesting name popped out.

Amidst a solid lineup composed of former MPBL stars and bull-strong imports Emman Ojuola and Landry Sanjo and led by former PBA stars Paulo Hubalde and Leo Najorda, the name "Florencio Serrano" somehow became glaring enough for reporters present at the Tiaong Convention Center.

When Siomai King began its shootaround right after the tournament's opening ceremonies at the Tiaong Convention Center, one player who showed up for the team is indeed that Encho Serrano.

So how was Serrano able to suit up in the PSL when he is still embroiled in a free agency drama between the PBA's Phoenix Fuel Masters and MPBL's Pampanga Giant Lanterns?

According to PSL officials, he has yet to formally sign with Pampanga, still defining him as a free agent following the expiration of his Phoenix contract on Wednesday and making him eligible to sign with Siomai King.

They then said that they first sought permission from Pampanga governor Delta Pineda, Serrano's longtime mentor, before clearing him for PSL action.

The 5-foot-11 high-flying guard was listed in the Fuel Masters' lineup for the ongoing PBA on Tour preseason series in hopes that they could still re-sign him following the end of his one-year rookie deal.

Serrano, however, reportedly declined a fresh two-year deal to stay with Phoenix and told the team that he is joining Pampanga instead.

The Fuel Masters may have probably accepted their fate as Serrano's name is not anymore reflected in their stat sheets during their PBA on Tour games.

However, Serrano's PSL stint could be short-lived as the Giant Lanterns are expected to formalize their acquisition of Serrano right after the D2 Super Cup.

Pampanga first ruled the PSL Dumper Cup earlier this year before returning to the MPBL.

Serrano started the game for Siomai King against Antipolo, but his stint did not last long as Siomai King already established a large margin then.

In just 15 and a half minutes, Serrano top-scored for Siomai King with 19 points in a 119-76 rout of Antipolo.

Once he formally signs his contract with Pampanga, Serrano will be making a second tour of duty in the MPBL as he was part of the Basilan lineup that ruled the 2021 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational.

Another interesting acquisition by Siomai King for the PSL D2 Super Cup is Kurt Lojera.

Unlike Serrano, though, Lojera is still listed in Phoenix's lineup for the PBA on Tour.

On why he chose to play in the PSL—all the more that the Fuel Masters were to face the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters also on Friday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo—remains unknown.

Lojera also played for 15 and a half minutes for Siomai King and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, and five assists.

His presence, though, could have changed Phoenix's fate as they fell to ROS.

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