Reigning champion San Miguel Beer expects tougher opposition in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Philippine Cup that will begin on November 20.
With less than 20 days before the opening day, SMB coach Leo Austria and the Beermen returned to practice with their new recruits; the 6’7 Arnold Van Opstal, Jovit Dela Cruz and Rashawn McCarthy.
“Every season, every conference we’re target of most teams because of our competitive lineup but they must also realize that all the teams are rebuilding every season,” Austria told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
“That’s why we have to do better because the expectation of the people is very high on us.”
Austria said that health would play a crucial role if they were to win another title.
“As long as the team is healthy, we can win more games. Last conference, we started without Gabby Espinas and Arwind Santos due to injury. We are okay now.”
Austria added that the 6’10, three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo would remain center while Van Opstal would serve as his backup.
“Van Opstal will serve as June Mar’s back-up unless he can play the No. 3 or 4 positions. They can’t play together at the same time if he’ll be playing center,” said Austria. “Arwind (Santos) is the one who is playing the No. 4 position. In Philippine Cup, June Mar (Fajardo) is still our main guy.”
“Dela Cruz and McCarthy, on the other hand, are both promising players and they are showing good potentials,” added Austria. “The only problem is there are many players in their position. We are still going to trim our line-up before the opening.”
Besides Fajardo, the other notable Beermen are Santos, Gabby Espinas, Yancy De Ocampo, Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Tubid, David Semarad and Chris Lutz.
SMB is set to acquire a new guard in the person of Ryan Roose Garcia from the Star Hotshots. The team also acquired Keith Agovida from Mahindra in exchange of forward Ryan Arana.
“All our big men have live contract with us. Only Gary David is the free agent so far,” said Austria.