San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria is taking a calculated approach in terms of the Beermen’s familiar Grand Slam bid in the pro league’s 43rd season that gets going with the Philippine Cup on December 17.
And he is also doing such in terms of integrating Fil-German bruiser Christian Standhardinger, the first overall pick in last Sunday’s PBA Rookie Draft, into the Beermen’s proven system built around four-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo.
“Ang focus natin ‘yung maka-adjust siya sa team. Iyon ang trabaho natin as coach, kung paano na mapapabilis ‘yung bagong player na makuha ‘yung system namin,” Austria told Bulletin-Tempo yesterday.
“We still have the core of the team, anjan sina June Mar (Fajardo), Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Arwind Santos… so maganda ‘yung pag-pasok ni Standhardinger sa team,” he added.
It remains to be seen, however, how quick the 6-foot-8 Standhardinger can get himself familiar with the veteran-laden Beermen since he will be out for at least six months due to his prior commitment with defending champion Hong Kong Eastern Lions in the ASEAN Basketball League which starts on November 15.
While the 6-foot-10 Fajardo remains as SMB’s focal point of offense, Austria feels Standhardinger’s entry should also pave the way for big adjustments within the Beermen’s starting unit, with power forward Arwind Santos taking the biggest chunk.
“Alam natin na si Arwind kayang mag-adjust sa position, pwedeng four or three,” he said. “We’re just excited to have June Mar and Christian sa team, pwede namin silang pagsabayin.”
Aside from Standhardinger, the Beermen also boosted their arsenal with the acquisition of former University of Santo Tomas gunner Louie Vigil with the fifth pick in the second round before taking in unheralded Jerome Ortega and former Adamson guard Joseph Nalos in the succeeding rounds.
Standhardinger, seen by many as the bigger version of Star’s Marc Pingris, is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup where the Beermen are eager to extend their dominance for the fourth straight time.
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