SMB eyes back-up import but hopes to bring back Charles Rhodes after Korea stint
Bringing back Charles Rhodes for the Commissioner's Cup remains the top priority of the Beermen. Jaime Campos

HE came and left without a hush.

Only a few perhaps knew import Charles Rhodes was in the country last week to check on his brothers, the San Miguel Beermen, a team he will likely reinforce anew in the PBA Commissioner's Cup in April.

Rhodes was at the Smart Araneta Coliseum when the Beermen squeaked past the KiA Picanto last week, 108-106. He arrived in the country on Thursday and left for Korea on Saturday, where he plays in the Korean Basketball League.

"He just came over for a brief visit kasi walang laro yung KBL because of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers. So nanood lang siya and said hi to the team, “ SMB coach Leo Austria said.

The 6-foot-8 Rhodes, who won Best Import award and powered San Miguel to last year's Commissioner's Cup title, remained the top prospect of the team to reinforce them again in the mid-season tournament, according to Austria.

Problem is that Rhodes might miss some games early in the import-laden meet if his Korean ballclub makes it all the way to the finals.

"Contender kasi yung team niya ngayon sa Korea and kung makapasok sila ng finals, may mga games kami sa Commissioner's Cup na tatamaan," said Austria.

That's the reason why the Beermen, according to Austria, is looking for a back-up as part of their plan.

"Baka kumuha muna kami ng ibang import if ever makapasok nga sila sa Charles sa finals," said the SMB mentor.

Then again, Rhodes job isn't safe yet.

"Baka mamaya yung makuha naman naming back-up e super import," he added. "So depende pa rin."

But there's no denying Rhodes will be of big help to the team's campaign to retain its title just like he did last year in his first tour of duty with the franchise.

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"At least si Charles kabisado niya na yung team at kabisado na rin siya ng team," Austria said. "Kaya he remains our priority."

Aside from the 32-year-old Rhodes, also coming on board for San Miguel in the second conference is top rookie pick Christian Stanhardinger, who is currently playing for Hong Kong Eastern Lions in the ASEAN Basketball League.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos