#PBA2015 Roster Review: The San Miguel Beermen

With the 2014-2015 PBA season’s official rosters released, I found it only logical to look at each line-up and see where each team stands. In this series of posts, I’ll be breaking down each team’s bigs, wings, and floor generals while also looking at what kind of damage they’ll do this season.
Let’s look at roster of the San Miguel Beermen.

Can the Beermen finally deliver on the promise of their deep roster?

Overall 2013-2014 Record: 25 wins and 17 losses.

Best Finish: Semifinals in the 2013-2014 Philippine Cup.

BIGS: Rico Maierhofer, June Mar Fajardo , Doug Kramer, Dave Semerad, Justin Chua, Arwind Santos
- This isn’t really the biggest frontline in the league, but the Beermen do have the best big guy around. June Mar Fajardo may have missed out on the Rookie of the Year plum in his first pro campaign, but he broke out in a big way last season, bagging the Most Valuable Player award. Of course, he would rather have won a conference title, but the third-year center will definitely not scoff at being MVP. Having said that, expectations this season, especially after showing great progress in his Gilas Pilipinas stints this year, have gone up, and so must his level of play. Right now, he’s putting up 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game while shooting 64% from the floor. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

- Maierhofer, Kramer, Semerad, and Chua are all interchangeable pieces in this roster, but the other frontcourt guy opponents should be paying attention to is former MVP Arwind Santos, who has had to endure a ton of criticism the past few seasons. Nobody can argue that he is one of the most talented players in the country, but he has periodically failed to come up big in elimination games. This has padded his reputation as a player who can put up great stats but can’t bag titles. For his sake, I hope things change this season.

Even bigger things are expected of June Mar Fajardo.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports5)

Arwind Santos rises for the put-back.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports5)

WINGS: Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Pascual, Nelbert Omolon, Ronald Tubid
- Already boasting the sublime pairing of Fil-Americans Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter, SMB’s wingmen are among the most talented in the PBA. Lutz and Lassiter have similar skill-sets, and either one can catch fire at the drop of a hat. As of now, this dynamic duo is norming about 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists combined. Not bad, of course, but they’ll have to shoot much better from downtown (combined just 2/13 3pt shooting)  if they want to make the jump to elite status.

- Tubid and Omolon have had their moments in the pros, but they’re mainly going to be relievers this season. Both can score in bunches, but coach Leo Austria shouldn’t expect consistency from either one. Pascual is a welcome addition and a bit of a wildcard. His size and shooting are comparable to Lutz’s and Lassiter’s, but he has yet to really find his groove. Given how he’s playing just 8 minutes per game, I wouldn’t be shocked if he finds himself in a different team in the middle of the season.

FLOOR GENERALS: Sol Mercado, Chris Ross, Paolo Hubalde
- This is, arguably, the deepest position for San Miguel. Best friends Mercado and Ross form a great combo, with Mercado capable of sliding to the off-guard spot should the Beermen go small-ball. Mercado is the scorer, while Ross is the bona fide playmaker. So far, however, neither has been able to get into the groove of things yet. The emphasis on getting the ball to June Mar down low has really affected the Sol Train’s ability to penetrate and make plays, but he should have some breakout games strewn here and there. Ditto for Ross, who also showed last year that he has the capability to carry a team to some Ws.

Sol Mercado should be a daily scoring threat for SMB.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports5)

- Hubalde is a bit of an underrated guy. He’s as efficient as they come (averages 4 points and 3 rebounds in just 9 minutes per game), so anytime he’s on the floor, expect good things to happen. Unfortunately, he probably won’t be on the floor for very long.

Final Word: Firepower
- San Miguel has the consensus best center in the country, the heaviest stat-munching combo forward, a pair of explosive wings, and a Mutt & Jeff pairing at PG. This team should always contend for the title, but, as recent history suggests, even this much firepower can sputter when the stakes get high. The bottom-line is coach Austria has to make this team mentally tougher than ever before if he wants to really squeeze out as much as these guys can deliver.

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