Spotlight still on SMB
From a jet-lagged Alex Compton bouncing from one interview station to another, to reigning four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo casually facing cameras everywhere, the PBA’s inaugural Media Day was a resounding success that commissioner Willie Marcial wants the event institutionalized.
And even in what was a one-stop setting for reporters to gather different stories, the San Miguel Beermen—like they have done on the floor the past few years—still dominated in the event held at The Tent at Solaire Resort and Casino in Pasay.
“They just got Terrence Romeo,” said Compton, the Alaska coach who will again look at the coming 44th season of the PBA to break through as a coach. Compton has steered Alaska to five Finals stints but has yet to win a crown.
“San Miguel Beer [has just] made everyone’s lives more difficult [with the Romeo trade],” he added.
Fajardo admits that eyes will be on the Beermen, even if Barangay Ginebra has made a strong impression last season with a championship in two Finals appearances.
“The pressure is on us because everyone is saying we’re the team to beat,” said Fajardo in Filipino during a live interview with Sports IQ as the Beermen to shoot to improve on their all-time Philippine Cup record by winning the conference for the fifth straight year.
“But I think teams like Ginebra and Magnolia, which played well last conference, are stronger than us. We’ll just have to do everything to defend our crown and it will not be easy, but it’s not impossible as long as we follow the system of coach Leo (Austria),” Fajardo said.
Even Romeo, unfazed by the scrutiny he now commands in a venue packed with sports journalists, made an appearance on media day and gladly answered queries relating to his much-ballyhooed transfer that made the Beermen unbeatable on paper.
“He’s going to be great there,” said Phoenix Petroleum coach Louie Alas. “Coach Leo thrives in making talented players play within a system.”
Romeo later approached Alas and the two shared a casual conversation, something that happened a lot between players and coaches coming from different teams during the Media Day.
“Okay ka na ba (Are you ok now)?” Alas asked as he gave Romeo a hug.
“Okay na (I’m ok now) coach, happy na ako,” Romeo said.
It was these exchanges that Marcial hopes will be a norm during similar events in the future.
“They are in a relaxed mode,” said Marcial, adding he wants the event to happen again.
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