By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE SAN MIGUEL Beermen and Northport Batang Pier, team which recently swapped big men via trade, meet up today in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup scheduled at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Set for 7 p.m., the Beermen (5-1) and the Batang Pier (2-4), who traded former number one picks Christian Standhardinger and Mo Tautuaa for one another in a high-profile deal last week, joust as they look to get the victory to further propel their cause in the season-ending PBA tournament.
Both teams are coming off victories entering the contest.
Mr. Tautuaa made his San Miguel debut in the team’s last game, a 113-107 win over the Columbian Dyip on Oct. 20.
The 2015 top rookie pick scored 10 points, all coming in the opening quarter, giving the Beermen a boost amid a tough challenge from the Dyip. He also had five rebounds in 19 minutes on the floor.
After the game, San Miguel coach Leo Austria said he liked what he saw from their new acquisition, saying as Mr. Tautuaa gets accustomed to their system he will be a steady contributing presence in their Grand Slam quest.
Turning his attention to his first game against his former team, Mr. Tautuaa said he is excited and looking forward to it.
“I’m just going to play hard. It’s gonna be a fun game. I get to see my former teammates who are still my friends even if I’m no longer with them,” said Mr. Tautuaa.
“It’s going to be a good game because Northport is capable of winning so we cannot count them out. We must play hard against them,” he added.
For Northport, Mr. Standhardinger, the first pick in the 2017 draft, looks to be of help right away to his struggling new team albeit his debut is still not a hundred percent certain as he deals with knee issues.
He made known that he was surprised to have been traded by the Beermen but has accepted it and moving on even as he said that he will do everything he can to help the Batang Pier.
In the ongoing tournament, the Fil-German has been averaging 3.5 points and four rebounds in 13 limited minutes with San Miguel.
Northport stopped a four-game losing streak in its previous game, defeating the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters, 80-70, on Oct. 12.
Mr. Tautuaa led the Batang Pier in the win with 16 points and nine boards with import Mychal Ammons adding 12 markers and six rebounds.
Incidentally, Mr. Ammons joined Mr. Tautuaa out of Northport as the team had decided to replace him with Michael Qualls.
Mr. Qualls, who played in the G-League and in Israel, debuts against the Beermen.
Meanwhile, playing in the 4:30 p.m. opener are the Blackwater Elite (2-4) and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (1-5).
The Elite lost in their previous game while the Elasto Painters are in a four-game slump, prompting them to tap another replacement import in Kwame Alexander.