JOSHUA Smith is set to suit up for TNT KaTropa in Game 1 of the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals against San Miguel after a second check-up on his injured toe eased fears of long-term repercussions.
The 6-10, 330-lb. Smith's stint in Wednesday's opener of the best-of-seven championship series was guaranteed after TNT didn't notify the PBA Commissioner's Office of any changes to its lineup within the 24-hour period before a game as mandated by league rules.
TNT team manager Virgil Villavicencio later confirmed the Texters decided to go with Smith instead of stand-by import Mike Myers after the former received a more positive prognosis on the injury that slowed him down in the semifinal playoff against Ginebra.
Villavicencio said a second examination revealed the pain in Smith's foot wasn't being caused by torn ligaments on his toe as initially feared, but by a muscle issue that can be managed.
"Syempre we didn't want to risk any major injury on Smith dahil basketball ang livelihood n'yan," Villavicencio told SPIN.ph. "But when we learned in a second check-up that there are no such risks, we decided to go with him in Game One."
The TNT team manager said Smith was already moving better when he attended the team's practice sessions the past two days.
"Pero he's still receiving day-to-day care," he added.
TNT insiders said the Texters also want to go with the import who got them this far in the second tournament of the season, a stand that influenced management's decision.
However, TNT has the option of going with Myers in succeeding games of the series, so long as the ballclub informs the league of the changes within the prescribed 24-hour period before a game.
On whether the mammoth import gets to suit up for the rest of the best-of-seven encounter will all depend on how his injured foot will heal shortly after the series opener.
“We’ll take it from there,” said Villavicencio on the eve of the first finals meeting between the two rivals teams since Petron denied TnT a grand slam during the 2011 Governors Cup.
The three-day respite appeared to have done good for Smith, who managed to practice with the Texters for the second straight day after the team took Sunday off.
Smith practiced together with Myers, while Michael Craig, the team’s import for the season-ending Governors Cup, also showed up during TnT’s practice after arriving early Tuesday morning.
A doubtful starter for the Texters in the series opener is veteran big man Ranidel de Ocampo, who is down with the flu. Villavicencio said he’ll be a game-time decision for coach Nash Racela.
“We will know by Wednesday if he can play,” said the team manager.