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Converge future lies on young executive

A young executive will be taking an active role when Converge makes its selections in the Philippine Basketball Association Annual Rookie Draft this September.

FiberXers head coach Aldin Ayo said their 23-year-old team manager in Jacob Lao will be calling the shots when they retool their roster starting with the upcoming draft.

A member of the Ateneo de Manila University team that clinched the title in Season 85 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, Lao made league history when he replaced Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda to formally become the youngest team manager last April.

The previous record was held by Jacob Munez, who became Blackwater’s team manager at 26 years old in 2020.

Lao is a young entrepreneur whose father, Frank, also bankrolls the FiberXers’ participation in the PBA. His family also owns the Strong Group Realty, which campaigned in the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship.

Now, he has a bigger task at hand as he was assigned to plot Converge’s future while Ayo will focus on calling the shots in the ongoing PBA On Tour.

“It will depend on Jacob,” Ayo told a group of sportswriters in an interview.

“He calls the shots. He is the one doing this for us and, sometimes, he asks us. But at the end of the day, it will be his decision. He always makes sure that we work together. We trust Jacob.”

In the coming draft, Converge will have late picks in the first round — ninth and 10th. The FiberXers acquired the ninth pick in a three-team trade involving TNT and Blackwater while the 10th pick came from the deal that involved Avu Tratter and Dave Murrell.

Aside from the draft, Lao’s negotiating skills will be tested when he deals with other players, especially star guard Maverick Ahanmisi who is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

“In terms of player movements, we let the management decide on it,” Ayo added when asked about Ahanmisi, who averaged a career-best 19.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals in the previous Governors’ Cup.

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