Injury-hit SMB to lean more on AZ Reid

San Miguel Beer may not be starting the PBA Governors Cup with a healthy roster, but coach Leo Austria likes the fact that they’ve got a do-it-all import Arizona Reid back in the fold for the Beermen’s title-retention bid.

The long-haired Reid, now in his 5th tour of duty in the PBA, has been practicing with the team for a month already.

The former High Point standout though will be asked to do a lot more for SMB, which will kick off the conference against Phoenix on Sunday without veteran forwards Arwind Santos and Gabby Espinas.

Santos just underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee over the weekend and is expected to miss at least the first 6 games of the season-ending conference.

On the other hand, Espinas is still recovering from a knee injury as well, while June Mar Fajard’s chief backup Yancy de Ocampo is still dealing with back problem.

“Ine-expect ko ang usual game niya (Reid), though the good thing with him is alam na niya paano laruin yung PBA at familiar na siya sa team namin at sa liga,” Austria told FOX Sports on Tuesday before the team’s practice game against GlobalPort.

The 30-year-old Reid was at the forefront of San Miguel’s Governors Cup title run last season where he averaged 29.61 points, 9.89 rebounds, 5.04 assists and 1.46 steals.

Austria said the 2-time PBA Best Import might see extended minutes on the floor in Santos’ absence though he also expects Marcio Lassiter, Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot to contribute on offense.

“Siya (Reid) yung player na ayaw niya lahat sa kanya lang. Gusto niya distributed yung scoring kaya gagawin niya yung role niya at kung kaya niya dalhin on his own, gagawin niya,” explained the three-time PBA champion coach.

For sure, Austria said the return of top slotman June Mar Fajardo to the team will be huge since they finally got their top inside threat back.

The two-time PBA MVP rejoined the team’s practice on Monday since concluding his Gilas Pilipinas stint last week. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava