THE second conference of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will fire off on Sunday but the question is: Will San Miguel Beer win the crown again?
That is because the Beermen being the defending champions, they ought to repeat—given a bench that is so talented and so ever deep.
That is because the Beermen being the first conference champions, they merit a second serving no less.
And, that is because the Beermen being already a star-studded squad, they had gotten yet the No. 1 pick in last year’s controversy-laden Draft Day.
Controversy-laden because a PBA power bloc had made it so.
I refer to the MVP group of TNT Katropa, Meralco and NLEX that questioned Christian Standhardinger’s shipment to San Miguel Beer from Kia in exchange for at least four players.
Standhardinger, the gifted Fil-German that made his mark as a Gilas Pilipinas reinforcement in the Taipei Jones Cup and Fiba Asia tilt, will finally suit up for SMB’s drive to win a second straight title in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But before this, Standhardinger’s trip to SMB from Kia had caused the untimely fall of Chito Narvasa from his lofty perch as PBA commissioner.
Calling Narvasa’s approval of the SMB-Kia trade as unfair, the MVP group led a seven-team uprising against the continued reign of Narvasa, forcing the commissioner to resign in December 2017 “in the spirit of league unity.”
Standhardinger will not play until May, when SMB debuts in the PBA’s second conference.
More than his monstrous average-game stats of 23.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals in the ongoing ABL as an Eastern-Hong Kong stalwart, Standhardinger will all the more make SMB a superpower in teaming up with four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
With Fajardo’s ceiling of 6-foot-10, he and the 6-foot-8 Standhardinger will easily become the league’s real Twin Towers. Now put burly import, 6-foot-9 Troy Gillenwater, in the mix, easily that’s Triple Towers too much to handle for the opposition.
SMB coach Leo Austria said of the powerhouse prospect: “Practically, we now have two ‘imports’ from Germany and the US.”
To that, I still say Austria’s six-title winning streak will be put to the test.