San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria said that the Beermen need someone who can inspire the team as they try to complete a tall order heading into the final two weeks of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations.
Here comes Chris McCollough, a former first round pick in the NBA, who sounds just like the guy Austria is looking for.
“I came here with a chip on my shoulder. I just want to win games, win a championship,” McCollough said after practice with the Beermen on Tuesday. He is set to replace Charles Rhodes when San Miguel collides with NLEX on Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m just coming here with a lot of energy, with a lot of dunks—a lot of dunks,” said the former Syracuse standout in the US NCAA. “Expect us to start winning more games, coming in and playing hard, coming for that championship.”
McCollough planed in silently Monday, a day after the Beermen lost to Columbian, 134-132, in overtime. That was the end of Rhodes, who led San Miguel to the title here in 2017 but has obviously been ineffective this season with a 2-5 (win-loss) record.
“Whenever you lose, your morale begins to dip,” Austria said. “Now, we’re in a situation where we can’t afford to lose. I think a sense of urgency is more than imperative.”
Asked if Rhodes—a key cog in their title run in this conference two years ago—had become central to that decline, Austria said that it wasn’t the case.
“We needed somebody who could inspire the team. That’s one factor. But it’s not only him (Rhodes),” Austria went on.
Meanwhile, TNT tries to keep No. 1 spot and gain at least a tie for the second quarterfinal bonus Wednesday when the KaTropa battle Rain or Shine at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With a 7-1 record, the KaTropa are within two wins of the top ranking—and the lightest assignment in the first round of the playoffs. The game against the Elasto Painters is at 7 p.m. after NorthPort tries to improve its 7-2 record against Columbian at 4:30.
McCullough will have to be nothing short of a perfect fit for the Beermen, who need to sweep their remaining games to keep their hopes of a playoff spot—and a chance at a second straight championship—alive.
But he seems up to the task.
“Everything is good. All my tests came out good. I was measured at [6-foot-9]. I’m just ready to play now,” said McCullough, who is coming off stints in Puerto Rico, China and the NBA G-League, where he was once an All-Star.
“I heard of [the rich history of San Miguel Beer], and one of my boys when I was working with the Nets, he told me that this is like the Lakers of the PBA, and the winningest team—so it’s a good [one],” he added.
McCullough was picked 29th overall by the Nets in 2015, but did not play until the following year because of an ACL injury. He was inserted into the team’s starting unit late in that season before being assigned to Brooklyn’s developmental squad.
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