SAN Miguel Beermen (SMB) let go of Arwind Santos to acquire Vic Manuel from NorthPort yesterday in a trade that shocked many considering it involved one of the key players in the Beermen’s last championship runs.
Mr. Santos played the last 12 seasons with SMB, forming a formidable “Death 5” with June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter that sparked the franchise to a historic PBA Philippine Cup five-peat.
Overall, Mr. Santos collected nine Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) titles with SMB since jumping over from Burger King in 2009. Along the way, he won the 2013 MVP award plus two Finals MVP plums and two Best Player of the Conference accolades.
The 40-year-old “Spiderman” had a solid stint in the recent All-Filipino, averaging 12.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks in what turned out to be his “farewell” conference for his long-time squad.
For his part, Mr. Manuel found himself in a new team merely three days after landing at NorthPort in a separate trade from Phoenix.
Mr. Manuel, nicknamed “The Muscle Man,” averaged 12.82 markers and 5.47 boards in an injury-hit one-conference outing with the Fuel Masters, who shipped the forward to the Batang Pier for Sean Anthony last Friday.
The PBA teams are ramping up their buildups ahead of the targeted Nov. 28 kickoff of the import-flavored Governors’ Cup.
At least six of the 12 squads started doing five-on-five training sessions in their regular practice facilities in Metro Manila yesterday. Some of the imports, meanwhile, are expected to arrive in the next few days.
The pro league is hopeful to hold the second conference — possibly with a live audience back — at the Ynares Sports Arena, especially with NCR under the more relaxed Alert Level 2.
“We’ll seek guidance from the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) on everything, with the safety of everyone the primordial concern of the league,” said Commissioner Willie Marcial, who is arranging a meeting with IATF officials to fine-tune the safety protocols for the conduct of the games.
Additionally, Mr. Marcial said they will be batting for the return of spectators.
“We’ll also bring that up to the IATF. Kung papayagan, we’ll seek guidance on the protocols — gaano kadami ang papayagan, paano ang sitting arrangements, kailangan ba para sa bakunado lang, etc.,” he said.