Given the short break in between conferences, San Miguel coach Leo Austria has ordered the Beermen to report to practice on Tuesday as they begin their quest for the franchise’s 2nd PBA Grand Slam title.
Austria originally set the team’s return to practice on Monday, but decided to give an added 1-day break.
“They have to understand our situation right now. Because of the experience we had last year, after we won the all-Filipino championship, we didn’t play the way we played and we got eliminated,” Austria said told FOX Sports.
After winning last year’s Philippine Cup crown in an epic seven-game title series versus Alaska, San Miguel limped off to a 0-4 start.
The Beermen eventually placed 9th in the mid-season, import-spiced conference with a 4-7 record.
This season, San Miguel has tapped NBA D-League veteran Tyler Wilkerson for the PBA Commissioner’s.
The 27-year-old Wilkerson, college teammates of 2016 Philippine Cup Finals MVP Chris Ross and Chris Lutz, has been in Manila over the last 2 weeks.
“If you noticed, nandito na ang import namin. Unlike before when our import arrived 3 days before our first game (in last season’s Commissioner’s Cup), we obviously struggled,” explained the soft-spoken San Miguel mentor.
“I hope maintinidhan na ako ng mga players. I don’t want to be KJ (kill joy) but we should be professionals and we have a job to do,” he added.
“This is just the start of the season so we still have 2 more conferences to go.”
The Beermen have 11 days to prepare before plunging to action against the Mahindra Enforcers on February 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 240-pound Wilkerson is coming off a stint with the Hang Sen Guayzhou China’s NBL, submitting solid numbers of 35.1 points and 15.3 rebounds per contest.
Wilkerson, who had overseas stints in Israel and Puerto Rico, also logged in a per-game average of 17.9 points in South Korea.
He also played for the Austin Toros in the 2013 NBA D-League season, where he had norms of 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in 36 games. — By Richard Dy