PUTTING emphasis on team character and harmony, San Miguel decided to let go of temperamental import Tyler Wilkerson and play all-Filipino in Game Three of its PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series against Rain or Shine on Thursday.
Team manager Gee Abanilla read an official statement from management about the decision to dismiss the 6-foot-7 Wilkerson and go with the same core that won the Philippine Cup championship in record fashion.
“We want to try to instill in ourselves values like consistent hardwork, discipline on and off the court, and respect for others, be it coaches, players and most importantly, to people who sign our paychecks,” said Abanilla just hours before Game Three at the Philsports Arena.
“The coaches, with the support of management, decided to play all-Filipino and eventually, end our relationship with our import Tyler Wilkerson.”
Wilkerson, a leading candidate for the Best Import award, threw a tantrum during the team’s post-game huddle inside the San Miguel dugout, obviously frustrated after the Beermen lost Game Two, 98-96, to go down 0-2 in the best-of-five series.
Wilkerson reportedly figured in an argument with coach Leo Austria and team officials then stormed out of the dugout. The import was convinced to go back inside the dressing room by assistant coach Dayong Mendoza, but didn’t stay long and left the Araneta Coliseum for good.
Abanilla described Wilkerson as a nice person, but said the import has a problem keeping his temper.
“If you don’t give respect to people who sign your check, I think hindi na yata tama 'yun, and other players see this,” Abanilla said. “It destroys the team, it’s not healthy, we’re developing bad habits.”
Nonetheless, Abanilla said management is very grateful to Wilkerson for leading the Beermen to the semifinals of the mid-season tournament where they ended up as the No. 1 ranked team going to the playoffs.
“We appreciate (him) bringing us this far in the conference, but in the end it’s not really about winning or losing games per se,” said the former De La Salle player.