by Waylon Galvez
San Miguel coach Leo Austria said that other players need to step up following the recent trade where they lost two key rotation players as SMB opens training camp in preparation for a fourth straight Philippine Cup title in the 43rd PBA Season on December 17.
The team’s previous deal with Kia gave the franchise the No. 1 overall pick and it selected 6-foot-8 Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger but in return, SMB gave up three players.
These are Ronald Tubid, Jay-R Reyes and Rashawn McCarthy plus a first-round selection in 2019. Of the three players, Tubid and Reyes provide quality minutes for Austria coming off the bench.
Now with the three gone, this becomes a concern for Austria.
“We all know what Ronald provides for the team the previous seasons,” said the SMB mentor, who rotated the 6-foot-2 Tubid at two-guard spot and wing position, and was one of the veteran leaders of the squad.
As for the 6-foot-7 Reyes, Austria usually used him as the second or third guy – together with Yancy de Ocampo – at center position whenever June Mar Fajardo needed rest or was in foul trouble.
“Ito yung nawala sa amin ngayon, na kailangan naming hanapan ng solusyon,” Austria said. “May materyales naman, we just have to find out kung sino ang dapat sa mga positions na yun.”
The departure of Tubid will give Matt Ganuelas Rosser and Von Pessumal the minutes to be in the rotation for two and three spots, and Austria hopes that the two are ready for the challenge.
As for the center rotation, Gabby Espinas is still around although the 6-foot-5 bruiser is best suited at power forward four spot, the reason why Austria is giving the veteran free agent Billy Mamaril a tryout.
“Nag-sabi sa akin si Billy, and we’ll see kung papaano,” he said.
Standhardinger, a member of Gilas Pilipinas, is out for six months, or until April since he is under contract with the Hong Kong Eastern Lions – the defending ABL champion.
The team has two roster spots available, and aside from Mamaril, two rookies Jerome Ortega and Louie Vigil are also aiming to make the roster of SMB starting in today’s practice session.
The team’s core remains formidable.
Aside from Fajardo, Austria still has a backcourt tandem of Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot, and former league MVP Arwind Santos – all part of the Mythical Team. Also in Austria’s starting unit for the Philippine Cup is gunner Marcio Lassiter.
“Malakas yung starting five namin, pero siyempre kailangan din naman namin palakasin yung second and third units namin that will provide help off the bench,” said Austria.
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