SAN Miguel Beer import Ronald Roberts didn't do too badly in his debut given the short period of time he’s had with the team, but that hasn't kept Beermen coach Leo Austria from wishing he had somene else.
A day after the newly crowned PBA Philippine Cup champions were sent crashing back to earth by lowly KIA Motors, 78-88, on Wednesday night, Austria candidly said the team is still hoping to bring in the team's original choice, former Syracuse standout Arinze Onuaku.
“I hope na magkaroon kami ng chance sa kanya (Onuaku)," said Austria. "We’re still hoping, but we’ll see muna kung ano ang kakayahan ni Roberts.”
Onuaku had actually reached an agreement with SMB management, sources said, but his local agent said in a statement the import decided to wait for offers for short-term NBA deals after an impressive stint in the D-League Showcase.
But that doesn't mean SMB has given up on the import, with one official telling Spin.ph that they are only waiting for that window to close before making another effort to bring him over.
It is easy to understand why Austria and SMB covet Onuaku. Unlike Roberts who is more comfortable in the wings and plays fronting the basket, Onuaku is a legit frontliner who can team up well with SMB star center June Mar Fajardo.
The wide-bodied Onuaku gave a good account of himself during his stint in the Chinese Basketball Association last year after averaging 28.6 points and 14.8 rebounds for the Chongqing Flying Dragons.
Still, that doesn't necessarily mean Roberts' days with the Beermen are numbered.
Austria made it clear the team is willing to give the 23-year-old a chance to prove his worth. Roberts scored 18 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in his debut despite having just three days to prepare with the team, although the upset loss to KIA certainly won't help his chances of keeping his job.
“I’m really concerned about the preparation. We only had three days to prepare for this (KIA) game, then our import arrived last Saturday so yung gap namin to prepare napakaliit,” said the 56-year-old Austria.
San Miguel returns to action on Sunday against sister team Ginebra. By then, we should have a better idea on what the future holds for Roberts.