Playing in SMB uniform in the 2021 Governor’s Cup, newcomers Vic Manuel and Simon Enciso have yet to find their way to maximize their potential with the Beermen.
San Miguel head coach Leo Austria bared that the newly-acquired players are still learning the team’s system and it’s not surprising for him to see both players adjusting and not making much of an impact yet.
“Definitely, they could help the team,” Austria said. “But at this point in time, they’re really adjusting.”
The veteran bruiser Vic Manuel racked up 17 points in his San Miguel debut against NLEX Road Warriors, followed by only six points against one of his former squads, Alaska.
Nonetheless, he made his presence felt against Northport on Sunday after hauling down 20 points and five boards that led San Miguel to improve to a 1-2 card.
Enciso, meanwhile, has yet to find his groove for San Miguel. The 5-foor-11 playmaker was quiet in his first three games averaging just 2.7 points per game and shooting 30% from the field.
Austria admitted that giving Manuel quality minutes to play is a bit of an issue as their import Brandon Brown and six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo already man the frontcourt. Manuel played against NLEX in just 20 minutes and only 13 against Alaska and Northport.
“On Manuel, I could hardly give him a lot of time because of the presence of the import and June Mar Fajardo. And same thing with Mo (Tautuaa),” Austria admitted.
Meanwhile, the 63-year old mentor said that he had a lengthy conversation with Enciso on his quiet debut with San Miguel and sought to reassure the Fil-Am gunner.
“We had a lengthy talk yesterday about his role, and I said na I don’t care kung umiskor siya or hindi as long as you’re doing your job defensively and trying to direct the team. That’s fine for me,” Austria said.
Austria believes that there are a lot of things to process, as the former Philippine Cup five-peat champs are still adjusting with their recalibrated roster – with a two local addition and an import after Santos’ and Cabagnot’s departure from the team that marked the end of an era for San Miguel’s ‘Death Five’ – known to have chiefly engineered the team’s record five-title All-Filipino streak from 2015 to 2019.
For him, developing chemistry within his team is one of the challenges they must surmount given their brief preparation prior to the Governor’s Cup.
“In a short period of time, they’re trying to adjust and get some chemistry for them to get to the flow of the game,” Austria said. “Before, our team is just like [that], may autopilot na ‘yan. Sige, maglaro kayo.”
“But this time, they have to adjust to the system. But slowly, I think they will get it,” he added.
With a longer time to prepare until their match against the Blackwater Bossing on Saturday, December 18, the Beermen are hopeful to make progress in orchestrating their bond and chemistry while figuring out the players’ roles.
“This win (against NorthPort) will give us some confidence going into the next game. We’re so lucky that I’ve heard na it will be on Saturday, so we will be having some time to figure out what’s really happening in our team,” Austria explained.