Leo Austria explains decision to bring in Shabazz Muhammad

San Miguel has just brought in former NBA player Shabazz Muhammad as possible replacement for Orlando Johnson.

Johnson, who took the place of the team’s original choice Brandon Brown upon resumption of the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup, inherited a 3-2 win-loss record and has now led the Beermen to back-to-back victories over Brgy. Ginebra and Phoenix after a forgettable performance against TNT.

With the team now on a roll, head coach Leo Austria bared that the team will decide in a few days whether to retain Johnson or parade Muhammad.

“We are not talking about his game tonight whether he will play the next game or not,” said Austria shortly after San Miguel picked up its 5th win in 8 starts. “Give us some time because it’s a team decision if ever something happened na changes sa line-up namin.”

Austria, however, admitted that the availability of a player with Muhammad’s caliber was just too hard to ignore.

“You cannot pass up an opportunity like this,” said Austria of Muhammad who was drafted one notch higher than Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and played 5 solid seasons for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Whatever happens, Austria believes that the arrival of Muhammad is something positive since it not only gives them an option but it’s also a step towards normalcy as the acquisition of imports has become a daunting task due to travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a good thing na this is the first time na we have an import under the pandemic. You can never know what will happen. Sometimes, your other import, magiging positive [of the virus], who will be your replacement? This is our luxury today,” explained the 63-year old native of Sariaya, Quezon.

“All of a sudden, nagkaroon ng Shabazz. Alam naman natin na kinuha ito ng ibang team (Meralco). Ang nangyari, may nagparamdam, alam naman natin ang caliber nun. It’s not a hard decision to bring him to this league if ever.”


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