San Miguel has racked up three straight wins since replacing former Best Import awardee Charles Rhodes with former NBA player Chris McCullough.
The Beermen decided to pull the plug on Rhodes after the powerhouse team was blown off the court by Magnolia and then followed it up by losing to lowly Columbian in overtime which placed the reigning Philippine Cup champs in the brink of elimination.
Against the Dyip, the 34-year old Rhodes committed a game-high 9 turnovers which proved to be the final nail on his coffin.
Enter Chris McCullough. A certified first round pick in the NBA, 29th overall by the Brooklyn Nets in 2015.
The 24-year old native of The Bronx, New York debuted with a 47-point, 10-rebound performance as the Beermen snapped out of a 2-game slide by pulling off a 109-105 squeaker over NLEX. McCullough followed it up by dropping 37 points and hauling down 13 boards as San Miguel made it back-to-back with a 128-108 rout of Phoenix Pulse.
His scoring dropped against Rain or Shine as he only managed 24 points but the 6-foot-9 forward grabbed 17 boards and rejected a game-high 5 enemy shots in a solid display of defensive prowess. More importantly, his energy has rubbed off on the locals and the end result in 3 consecutive wins.
SMB team captain Arwind Santos is all praises for their new reinforcement but with the competition getting tougher with each passing game, he offered his young American teammate some reminders which may come in handy in their upcoming matches.
“Kinakausap ko rin yung import namin na ang Filipino basketball minsan, yung mga hindi niya na-experience nung naglalaro siya sa Amerika, mai-experience niya rito. Aasarin ka kasi magaling ka, kailangan mag-ready ka run, kailangan yung pasensiya mo mahaba,” said the 14-year PBA veteran.
“Ganun talaga naman ang lahat ng mga import. Minsan nagugulat sila kapag dito sila naglaro. Pero ganoon ang Philippine basketball eh. Natural yun, pag magaling ka. Kaya huwag kang mapipikon,” Santos added.
Once McCullough has fully adjusted to the team’s system and to the Filipino brand of basketball, Santos believes that the already potent Beermen will be a tougher nut to crack.
“Malaki ang naitutulong niya sa offense at defense namin. Tingin ko kapag nakabisado pa niya at na-master pa niya yung galawan namin bawat isa, at tsaka yung larong Filipino, maraming mahihirapan sa amin.”