SMB looking at either Denzel Bowles or AZ Reid as fate of current import Roberts hangs in the balance
Team insiders say former Purefoods import Denzel Bowles has become an option for the Beermen if current import Ronald Roberts fails to stick. Jerome Ascano

WITH its PBA Commissioner's Cup campaign in shambles, San Miguel Beer is looking at two import options in case it decides to push the panic button and make the change.

Team insiders revealed that Ronald Roberts will likely be playing for survival when San Miguel, winless in three starts, takes on Alaska Milk on Tuesday in a rematch of the protagonists in the last Philippine Cup Finals.

If Roberts fails to convince SMB officials that he should stay, insiders revealed the Beermen are looking at two former Best Import awardees - Arizona 'AZ' Reid and Denzel Bowles.

Reid is set to arrive in the country on Monday, but insiders said the team's original plan is to have the former Rain or Shine reinforcement in town early for the Governors Cup which opens on May 5.

That is, unless the Beermen are forced to make a desperate change.

"Kinuha namin si Reid para ready na kami sa next conference," said a team insider, who added SMC management does not want to be in the same situation as it found itself in in the ongoing tournament where Roberts had only a few days to prepare with the team after original import choice Arinze Onuaku backed out.

"Di tulad ngayong Commissioner's Cup, nagahol kami sa paghahanap ng import. Pero kapag nagkagipitan, baka gamitin na rin namin siya (Reid) ngayong conference," the source added.

Another option is Bowles, who has already been contacted by SMB officials of a possible stint with the Beermen now that sister team Purefoods has settled on NBA veteran Daniel Orton.

Bowles was likewise pursued by NLEX officials, who were informed by the former Purefoods import's international agents that he is also being targeted by one of the SMC-controlled teams.

[See Pardo says Purefoods open to letting Bowles play for other PBA teams]

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But one problem with Bowles is his height. He is listed at 6-9 3/4 in the PBA Commissioner's Office and will need to pass a re-measurement to be able to play for the Beermen, who can only tap an import 6-9 or shorter.

There is no such problem with NLEX, which can hire an import regardless of height after finishing in the bottom four - or 10th to be exact - in the last all-Filipino conference.

Insiders said SMB management isn't exactly disappointed in Roberts, who has averaged 22.67 points, 17.67 rebounds and three blocks in his three games with the newly crowned Philippine Cup champions.

However, Roberts is clearly more comfortable playing in the wings than from the inside and has a lot of problems trying to stop the bigger imports like KIA's Peter John Ramos.

Also, an import change will be inevitable if SMB continues to lose.

"Medyo struggling ang team eh. We don't want to blame Ronald for the losses, kaso we have to do something to stop the bleeding," said the source.

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