A day after achieving the feat of winning four consecutive Philippine Cup titles, San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria is upbeat for his wards’ upcoming title defense in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
The six-time PBA champion coach is excited for the arrival of the Beermen’s latest reinforcement in the person of top overall rookie pick Christian Standhardinger.
Standhardinger will further strengthen SMB’s formidable lineup that includes sixth-time straight Best Player of the Conference and Finals Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and import Troy Gillenwater.
“I think the team is really excited with Christian’s (Standhardinger) arrival and he will be welcomed with open arms by his teammates because they know that he can really help the team a lot,” Austria told reporters after the postgame celebration. “He is also excited and he’s communicating with the players and managers.”
The 6’7 Filipino-German Standhardinger is currently a member of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) defending champions Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions. He is expected to join San Miguel Beer most likely next month after the ABL playoffs.
“Some people say that he’ll create a problem for us in the rotation. Probably yes, but that is a good problem. There are a lot of criticisms before that I’m only using seven or eight players especially in an important game. Now we can use 10 players now in the rotation,” he added.
But Austria reminds the Beermen that an additional import does not mean surety of securing the title.
“Well, the possibility is still there every game, every conference, but you still need to work hard and talent is not enough. We must have good attitude, camaraderie and good preparation. I think the possibility to win another championship is there but this is a long shot because all teams are trying to build their teams.”
Austria is certain though that the two imports would be a tremendous assets for the Beermen.
“Now we have two imports one from Hong Kong and the US. The two players will be a good help to our team.”
Playmaker Ross said they would do everything to make it easy for Standhardinger and Gillenwater to blend in.
“No matter how many players you have on the team, you only have five players on the court. Just like before in Petron, we had a lot of talent but didn’t fit in,” explained Ross, who almost accomplished a first ever quadruple-double in the PBA by finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and eight steals in Game 5.
“We’ll adjust to make sure Troy and Christian will come and fit in.”
The 6’11 main man Fajardo posted 42 points and 20 rebounds to carry the Beermen to a 108-99 double overtime win over Magnolia in Game 5 on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena, closing out the best-of-seven Finals series, 4-1.
The Beermen will plunge into the Commissioner’s Cup action on April 22.