San Miguel Beer begins its title-retention campaign and coach Leo Austria has expressed his concerns with the readiness of his team as they face Globalport in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup today at the University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City.
It was only last Monday that Austria was able to have a complete roster in their practice session after key players dealt with various injuries, including back-to-back MVP June Mar Fajardo.
The 6-foot-10 center only played in two of San Miguel’s six preseason games, including a 92-81 defeat to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Fajardo, who averaged 17.41 points, 12.91 rebounds and 1.65 shot blocks last season, has regained his form after dealing with weight issues but is still recovering from plantar fasciitis.
“We’re also up against a very determined team, mataas kumpiyansa nila lalo si Terrence Romeo after his stint sa Gilas Pilipinas. Very short ang tournament and one round lang. Ang first win ’yun ang mahirap kunin,” said Austria, who was named the PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year.
Aside from Fajardo, orther SMB players that dealt with injuries are former MVP Arwind Santos (knee), ace shooter Marci Lassiter (hamstring and sore eyes) and David Semerad (hyper-extended knee).
The four however are expected to see action during the Petron Saturday Special, the league’s first out-of-town game this season scheduled at 5p.m.
“We’re doing well naman sa ensayo namin the past few days, ang importante is makuha yung rhythm,” said Austria, whose team obtained key preseason additions in guard Ryan Arana (from Rain or Shine) and playmaker Brian Heruela (from Barako Bull).
As for Globalport, the team had a busy off-season as it selected Roi Sumang in the PBA Rookie Draft, signed free agent rookie Philip Paniamogan, and dealt for Joseph Yeo, Jay Washington, Rico Maierhofer, Dorian Pena and Jonathan Uyloan in separate trades.