SAN Miguel Beer is currently on the lookout for an import for the PBA Commissioner's Cup, but that doesn't mean the team has crossed out Arinze Onuaku from its list.
An top team official bared the former Syracuse Orangeman has in fact signed San Miguel's offer sheet, but the team granted his wish to explore other options after receiving feelers from other NBA teams particularly the Los Angeles Clippers after an impressive stint in the D-League Showcase.
"Nakapirma na siya sa amin, kaso may tournament pa siya run, tapos sabi nung American agent niya may mga offer for him to sign a 10-day contract sa NBA. So we allowed him," said the San Miguel official who spoke on the condition that he not be named.
SMB officials agreed to the request on the condition that Onuaku will not be offered to other teams other that those in the NBA, he added.
"We're okay with that, kasi the agents gave us an assurance that Onuaku will not be offered to other teams other than (those) in the NBA," the official said.
It will be recalled that after Spin.ph first ran a story about San Miguel's plan to sign Onuaku, officials from his NBA D-League team Canton Charge immediately issued a denial.
But the San Miguel insider remained firm in his earlier claim that Onuaku has already committed to play for the Beermen at the end of his stint with the Canton Charge.
Another SMB source bared that the PBA's import salary cap of US$20,000 a month makes it difficult for local ballclubs to compete for the services of top American players against other leagues.
"Syempre, yung mga import pag binigyan 'yan ng 10-day contract sa NBA, mas pinipili nila 'yun. NBA yun eh. Bukod pa sa mas malaki ang offer," he said.
"Pero kami naman, willing kami to wait for Arinze. If he arrives in the second week of February, Okay sa amin. Naiintindihan namin 'yun dahil pinapangalagaan pa rin namin ang kanyang interest. It has been a company mandate," he said.
The San Miguel official likewise bared that the Beermen are now in the process of looking for a wingman import who can temporarily fill the gap while the team waits for the wide-bodied Onuaku.
"Naghahanap na kami. Baka wingman muna ang kunin namin. Kasi we'll wait for Onuaku. If the coming import proves fit for the team, that will be a good problem for us," the source said, adding the newly crowned return to practice on Monday.
The SMB official said it was coach Leo Austria who personally picked Onuaku from a list of import prospects, believing he can give reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo the much-needed help inside the paint.
"Gusto kasi namin big man ulit para may katulong si June Mar sa ilalim. Plus we believe Onuaku's presence can further improve the confidence of our shooters," said Austria in a previous interview with Spin.ph.
The midseason Commissioner's cup opens on Tuesday but the Beermen will not play until February 4 against the Kia Sorento at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"Wala nang pahinga ang coaching staff dahil hataw na ulit sila for next conference plus the fact na kami na lang ang walang import up to now," said the SMB official, pointing our that the import of Finals rival Alaska Aces, DJ Covington, has been in town since early last week.