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SMB can be beaten with import

by Dennis Principe

The roster of Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer is so strong it is now being considered too ambitious to think about derailing the Beermen’s Grand Slam aspirations this season.

It has come to this as the current SMB team is now being labeled a near-invincible squad ever since the Beermen acquired the highly-touted Fil-German Christian Standhardinger during this season’s Rookie Draft.

But multi-titled coach Chot Reyes says opposing teams should maximize whatever opportunity they can get now that the two remaining conferences of the season are import-laced tournaments.

“Yes it is really a very dominant line-up. Pag sobra kang lyamado yung ang pinaka-nakakanerbiyos na pwesto because you know everyone’s going after you. I don’t think anyone can touch that (San Miguel) team in the All-Filipino,” said Reyes. “But with an import, especially this conference with a big import, I think may konting pag-asa. With an import there’s a sort of a neutralizing factor.”

Reyes surely knows what he is talking about as he was placed in a similar situation in 1993 when he made his coaching debut via Purefoods, the season when the San Miguel franchise at that time was deemed unbeatable after a prime Allan Caidic joined buddies Samboy Lim, Hector Calma and Yves Dignadice together with Alvin Teng, 1992 MVP Ato Agustin and four-time MVP Ramon Fernandez, forming what was then known as PBA’s version of a “Dream Team”.

Reyes had an auspicious rookie year as a coach when he led an underdog Purefoods squad, then known as Coney Island Ice Cream, to the 1993 All-Filipino crown by beating the Beermen in their best-of-seven title series, 4-2.

While he relishes that experience, Reyes doesn’t see that much comparison between the 1993 Beermen to that of the current SMB team that will see Standhardinger team up with reigning MVP JuneMar Fajardo, perhaps the most talented and agile 6-foot-10 slotman in the history of Philippine basketball.

“Pretty similar, except, iba kasi yung dimension of having two big men. Allan Caidic is a great shooter pero yung three-point shooters kasi may malas din dyan minsan. Pero yung inside player, kailan mo nakitang minalas si JuneMar (Fajardo)?,” said Reyes.

Still, Reyes feels current teams can get an inspiration or two from his Coney Island squad which, despite being led by future greats Alvin Patrimonio and Jerry Codinera, was given little or no chance at all against San Miguel during their 1993 All-Filipino title faceoff.

“We went into the Finals against a powerhouse San Miguel with a nothing to lose attitude. I thought we played very freely, with no fear and in the end pinalad kami,” added Reyes “So, Ya I guess teams can look back and say na there is a chance. Small chance pero at least may chance.”

Pundits will finally be able to start assessing Standhardinger and his effect on San Miguel when the Beermen make their conference debut against the Meralco Bolts on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.