SAN Miguel is putting its fate in the PBA Commissioner's Cup on the hands of a new import in Troy Gillenwater.
The New Mexico alum is now in the country and has already joined the Philippine Cup Finals-bound Beermen in their practice a month before the mid-season conference takes off.
The unavailability of former Best Import Charles Rhodes, who is currently playing in the Korea Basketball League (KBL), forced the Beermen to look elsewhere and tap the services of the 6-foot-9 Gillenwater.
Rhodes' Korean ballclub KCC Egis is in strong contention for a finals berth and it would take a long time before he can commit of returning back here and help the Beermen retain the title they won together a year ago against TnT Katropa.
The American out of Mississippi State University is averaging 18.1 points and 8.7 rebounds for KCC Egis, which is currently running third in the 10-team standings.
"But we are confident that Troy can do the job," said team manager Gee Abanilla.
Rhodes, 32, briefly visited the country last month and even watched San Miguel's elimination round game against KIA.
Coach Leo Austria had a short chat back then with Rhodes, who he said won't really be available for the Beermen once the import-laden tournament begins due to a conflict in the schedule of the KBL.
Abanilla also made it clear there's definitely no problem between San Miguel and Rhodes.
"Charles Rhodes is not available and is still playing in the KBL. People are just speculating on a lot of things," he stressed. "But then you know how it goes for all imports."
The need to have a solid import right at the start of the tournament is also needed by the defending champions as highly-awaited top rookie pick Christian Standhardinger won't be coming on board for the team not until middle of May.
The 6-foot-7 Standhardinger is still playing in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) where his team, the Hong Kong Eastern Lions are in strong contention for the championship.
The 29-year-old Gilinwater is from Boston, Massachusetts, but was left out during the 2012 NBA draft.
But he emerged no. 2 overall pick in the 2014 KBL draft by the Goyang Orions.
Outside of Korea, he also had stints in Greece, Russia, Japan, and Turkey.