CHRIS Banchero’s return to the San Miguel Beer fold will have to wait a little longer as he will need two more weeks to fully recover from injury.
SMB head coach Leo Austria said the prolific point guard’s torn tendon on his left quadriceps is only 70 percent healed, meaning a return in the Beermen’s final elimination game in the Asean Basketball League against the Malaysia Dragons on May 17 is highly unlikely.
“He (Chris) has not even joined our practice as his injury needs two more weeks to fully heal. At best, we will see him back in the semifinals,” Austria said as his team (16-3) vies for a 15th straight victory when it faces the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers (7-13) in the 4 p.m. game at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
They beat the Slammers, 78-61, last Wednesday.
Although the team has been unbeaten in four games without Banchero, Austria admits there are instances when the MVP candidate’s presence was direly needed.
“We missed his ability to break down the defenses with his slashing and quickness. Although we were winning lately, we will definitely need his services in the semifinals when the competition gets tougher,” Austria said.
“That is why I would rather have him at a hundred percent later than less than a hundred percent now,” he emphasized.
With Banchero still out, San Miguel Beer will continue to rely on backup playmakers Paolo Hubalde and Jeric Fortuna.
“Although we already achieved our initial objective (No. 1 seed in the semis), we have to keep on winning to give us enough confidence. Of course, there is pride in keeping our winning streak alive,” Austria said.
The Slammers, who will be bannered by Christien Charles, Darrius Brannon and Froilan Baguion, are gunning for the fourth semifinal spot and the right to meet the Beermen in the Final Four.