SAN Miguel in keeping the faith in Troy Gillenwater, who remains the man for the team when it defends its title in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
SMB management attests Gillenwater has been doing very well in practice and is definitely secure with his job for the mid-season tournament that kicks off on April 22.
Team manager Gee Abanilla made the assertion in the wake of speculations former Best Import Charles Rhodes and recently pardoned Renaldo Balkman are both on standby to take over as San Miguel’s reinforcement.
“I think it’s really unfair if you talk about this while our import is working hard in practice,” said Abanilla, who once served as San Miguel coach before taking on a management role with the franchise.
“Paano mo idya-judge yung tao kung hindi mo naman alam kung paano siya maglaro kay Rhodes, kay Balkman,” he stressed. “Our focus right now is to get him in shape, help him learn our scheme of things, and hopefully, he could deliver, which we are confident he will.”
Rhodes, who helped steer the Beermen to the second conference crown last year, still has a contract with KCC Egis in the Korean Basketball League (KBL) where his team is currently locked in a semifinal duel with the Seoul Knights.
Balkman meanwhile, joined the equation after his life ban was lifted by the PBA, with his playing rights still owned by the Beermen. The former NBA player, though, is still with Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) playoffs.
San Miguel management, according to Abanilla, wishes Balkman good in his career and doesn’t take away the probability of him wearing a San Miguel jersey again.
But the Beermen have trust in Gillenwater, who they believe could come in handy as the team seeks a second straight championship this season following their historic conquest of a fourth straight Philippine Cup championship last year.
“Yung tanong mo kung may chance (Balkman), there’s always a chance, pero hindi ko masasabi yun. It really depends,” said Abanilla, who added he hasn’t been in contact with Balkman since his ban was lifted. “I don’t want to prejudge anything, pero as of now our import is Troy Gillenwater and we’re willing to back him up at this point.”
A product of New Mexico, Gillenwater was among the early imports to arrive here, and on several occasions, was able to see the Beermen live in action during the all-Filipino finals against the Magnolia Hotshots.
So far, Abanilla said Gillenwater is living up to expectations.
“Matagal na tayo sa PBA, lahat naman ng imports ganun, let his game speak for himself,” said the San Miguel team manager. “If he performs, well and good for all of us. You always judged them based on how they play and how they coordinate with their teammates.
“Magaling si Troy. We’re just hoping he’ll be able to complement June Mar and the rest of the team. And we’ll have Christian (Standhardinger) coming over also,” Abanilla said. “For me it’s a very tricky situation if you talk about it. (But right now), we like what we see in practice.”