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T’NT a puzzle for SMB as Finals beckon


(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. — SMB vs. T‘NT

San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria took a side glance at T'NT KaTropa import Joshua Smith and seemed trying to figure out what kind of team his Beermen would face when the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner's Cup Best-of-Seven Finals fire off tomorrow at the Araneta Coliseum.
Austria is aware Smith's health remains questionable for the most important battles of the conference, but the presence of a backup import during a presser in a restaurant at Eastwood City gave a hint of a possible replacement somehow.
The T'NT KaTropa management is weighing between Smith and standbyimport Mike Myers, who could suit up anytime should the franchise decide for a replacement within today, or at least 24 hours before Game One.
That is not lost on Austria as he also sized up Myers, who was not far away from where Smith sat.
Smith suffered a slight tear on his right foot in Game 3 of the semi-finals series with Ginebra last Thursday. He claimed he is feeling much better but team officials said he remains a "day-to-day."
Myers was also present during the conference, but he did not join the KaTropa in the presentation of the championship hopefuls.
He sat with other T'NT officials in another table and quickly left with assistant team manager Magnum Membrere soon after the program.
But his presence also gave Austria and his boys some concerns.
"It's hard for us to prepare right now because we don't who they are going to play, new import or old import," Austria said.
For now, aside from preparing against a Smith-led T'NT, Austria is also busy scouring the Internet for highlights of Myers' games.
"That's why we're practicing hard, because I believe that if you prepare your body and mind whatever situation you can handle," he stated.
San Miguel center June Mar Fajardo, who would be  assigned to the T'NT import, shares the same sentiment, saying: "Basta ang ginagawa namin sa ngayon, basic preparations and then adjust na lang sa laro."
KaTropa coach Nash Racela could not confirm whether to replace Smith.
"In any case, mabuti na ring mayroon kaming stand-by," said Racela.
"I'm just taking it day by day," said Smith, reiterating he wants to help hand T'NT the championship.
"I feel good from the last game. The two days off (since the semis series with the Kings ended last Saturday) really helped and like I said, I'm ready," he said.
San Miguel Beer is playing its 38th Finals in the league and its fifth in eight conferences with Austria, who has yet to win a Commissioner's Cup.
This will also be the first for Racela, who was an assistant coach when the KaTropa last made the finals in 2015.
"We'l take advantage of whatever opportunity is in front of us. We'll do our best," said Racela.                                                       

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