ONE would think that a powerhouse team with a veteran core like San Miguel Beer is trying to get younger.
But the Beermen have taken a look at players at the twilight of their careers to complete their roster after giving up Ronald Tubid, Jay-R Reyes, and Rashawn McCarthy in the trade with KIA's top rookie pick overall which they used to sign Christian Standhardinger.
Former SMB players Denok Miranda, Chico Lanete, and Mark Isip, and one from a sister team in former Ginebra player Billy Mamaril, have been trying out for the squad, seeking to prove they still have enough gas left in the tank.
“Pinapataas namin ang average age ng team,” SMB team manager Gee Abanilla said in jest during a lull in practice on Friday.
SMB coach Leo Austria bared the 37-year-old Mamaril, who last played for GlobalPort, is poised to make the roster over Isip as the team’s third-string center in place of Reyes.
“Definitely, kailangan namin ng another big man, which I think nandito si Billy and si Mark Isip,” Austria said. “But most likely, si Billy ang magandang reliever kay June Mar (Fajardo) o kay Yancy (de Ocampo).”
Miranda participated in his first practice on Friday, while Lanete started last Monday.
“(We could have) another point guard siguro or wingman to replace Tubid or McCarthy, but it’s not a very important matter para sa amin dahil ang core naman namin buo pa rin,” Austria said.
Those veterans are all fighting for three spots open for the Philippine Cup, one less when Standhardinger arrives in the Commissioner’s Cup after his stint with Hong Kong in the ABL.
The competition is tough at SMB as rookie wingmen Louie Vigil and Dave Moralde, and point guard Jerome Ortega, as well as regular practice players Axel Doruelo and Bacon Austria are also vying for roster spots.
“May mga potential sila, but it’s hard for them dahil ang ka-position nila ay si Alex, Marcio, at Pessumal,” said Austria, adding he is expected to make a decision by next week.
“Talagang pinag-aaralan namin ng mabuti,” he added. “Second week na ng mga rookies, so I told them na this is another week na dapat i-consider nila, dahil tinitingnan namin sila. That’s why tomorrow, mahaba yung scrimmage namin after conditioning then we’ll see.”