PBA: Manuel, Enciso still adjusting to SMB system, says Austria

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2021 07:48 PM

San Miguel's new acquisitions, Vic Manuel and Simon Enciso, have yet to make much of an impact for the Beermen. PBA Media Bureau.
San Miguel's new acquisitions, Vic Manuel and Simon Enciso, have yet to make much of an impact for the Beermen. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- After three games, Vic Manuel and Simon Enciso are still searching for consistency as they adjust to their roles with the San Miguel Beermen.

For SMB head coach Leo Austria, it's not surprising that neither Manuel nor Enciso have made much of an impact, as both newcomers are still learning their system.

Manuel, acquired in a blockbuster trade with NorthPort in exchange for Arwind Santos, had 17 points in his San Miguel debut against NLEX, but followed it up with just six points against Alaska, one of his former teams. He had 10 points and five boards against NorthPort on Sunday, a game that San Miguel won, 91-88.

Enciso, for his part, has yet to have a breakout game. Acquired from TerraFirma in exchange for Alex Cabagnot, Enciso is averaging just 2.7 points per game and is shooting 30% from the field. He averages almost as many turnovers (1.0) as assists (1.3) per contest.

"Definitely, they could help the team," Austria said of the pair. "But at this point in time, they're really adjusting."

Austria admitted that giving Manuel minutes is an issue as their frontcourt now features import Brandon Brown and six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo. Manuel played 20 minutes against NLEX and just 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)," said the coach.

Austria said he has already spoken to Enciso after his subpar start to his San Miguel career, and he sought to reassure the guard.

"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," he explained.

Nonetheless, Austria expects the growing pains to continue, as the Beermen are not only integrating two new local players and an import -- they are also adjusting to the departure of two members of their core. Both Santos and Cabagnot had been members of the "Death Five" together with Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross, and trading them away marked the end of an era for San Miguel Beer.

For Austria, this means developing chemistry within his squad -- not the easiest of tasks given their brief lead-up to the Governors' 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," he said. "Before, our team is just like ano, 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.

The good news for Austria and the Beermen is that they have some time before their next game: SMB won't play again until Saturday, December 18, when they face the Blackwater Bossing.

Austria is hopeful that the coming days will help their progress in developing chemistry and 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," said the coach.

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