PETRON coach Gee Abanilla doesn’t see import Elijah Millsap crowding star Arwind Santos for playing minutes in the forward spot once the PBA Governors Cup gets underway next month.
Abanilla said he sees no problem with Millsap co-existing with Santos at the wing after the Petron stalwart saw his numbers nosedive during the Commissioner’s Cup where he came off the bench to spell the Boosters’ import.
“Arwind is a very important piece for the team. But since import conference tayo at 6-foot-5 ang allowed height, may konting effect `yun sa kanya,” noted the former La Salle head coach, who will be calling the shots for Petron for the first time this conference.
“That is why I’m encouraging my players to perform dual roles, and likewise for our import, dahil naniniwala ako puwede naman silang mag-complement,” Abanilla added.
The numbers of the 6-foot-4 Santos hit career-lows of 9.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in 16 games during the last conference where he split the playing minutes with Petron’s imports and fellow forward Jay Washington.
Washington though has since been shipped by Petron to Globalport last month in exchange for rookie Jason Deutchman and a future pick.
At the same time, Abanilla feels the high-energy Millsap – brother of NBA veteran Paul Millsap – can bring in more firepower to the Boosters’ forward spot, given the talent-loaded roster Petron has this season.
That’s the reason why Abanilla has been keenly observing Millsap’s performance in the ongoing NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
The 6-foot-5 Millsap is currently churning out impressive numbers in the NBA Summer League as the former University of Alabama-Birmingham forward averages 14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists in 25.4 minutes of play through his first three games for the D-League Ambassadors.
“I’m watching the games to see Elijah’s strengths so we’ll know how to use him,” Abanilla told Spin.ph during the team’s practice at the Acropolis gym in Libis.
Millsap scored 21 points and went 15-of-20 from the foul line to lead the D-League selection to an 81-77 win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Abanilla, who assumed the head coaching post of Petron following the transfer of erstwhile mentor Olsen Racela to San Mig Coffee a few weeks ago, expects Millsap to arrive in the country on July 27.