By: Musong R. Castillo - Reporter / @MusongINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net
Photo: TNT KaTropa is still undecided on which import to play in Game 1—at least—of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Wednesday.
Joshua Smith, the Texters’ 330-pound banger, attended the title series press launch on Monday, giving the impression that he will play despite torn ligaments in his right toe that left him hobbling in the last two games of their Final Four series against Barangay Ginebra.
But over at another table sat Mike Myers, an equally impressive specimen who is listed as standby by the coaching staff in case medical examinations to be done later in the day would keep Smith out of commission.
So where does this leave pre-series favorite San Miguel Beer which must prepare for every single component of its title series foe?
And does TNT coach Nash Racela, in keeping his cards close to his chest, have an advantage in any way? Is he throwing San Miguel’s preparations off?
Grand Slam-winning coach Tommy Manotoc feels that both teams have an advantage, albeit slight, with the element of surprise belonging to the Texters because they have two imports at their disposal.
“It will take San Miguel three quarters at most to adjust [to the new import of TNT], but that’s all,” Manotoc said over the phone. “But you have to keep in mind that even [the local players of] TNT would have to adjust [playing] with their new import in such a high stakes game.”
“So it can work both ways—the positives and the negatives,” he said. “The advantage that TNT has is that it has two imports at its disposal and the advantage that San Miguel has is that it still has (June Mar) Fajardo and (Charles) Rhodes.”
Manotoc feels that TNT must have its import—whether that be Smith or Myers—neutralize Fajardo, leaving Rhodes as Racela’s other defensive concern.
“The question mark is if a local can guard Rhodes,” Manotoc said. “TNT’s locals would have to defend him, and he will be a handful.”
San Miguel team manager Gee Abanilla has compiled materials of Myers’ past games in the US and Korea since seeing him behind the TNT bench on Saturday night.
And Abanilla feels that TNT will be playing with Smith, at least for the 7 p.m. game slated Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.