Win or lose, San Miguel Beer will switch import

Win or lose, San Miguel Beer will switch import

EVEN if Ivan Aska helped San Miguel Beer (SMB) get two wins this week and on the doorstep of a quarterfinal berth at 5-3, the Beermen will still proceed with its planned import switch.

Bennie Boatwright, a teammate of former Magnolia reinforcement Nick Rakocevic at University of Southern California, will take over from Mr. Aska moving forward in SMB’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup drive.

“That (Boatwright’s takeover) is the plan. It hurts but Ivan is really a professional, he understood it and I give him all the respect that I can give a man,” San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent said.

Mr. Boatwright, 23, has been in town for a while but an illness forced the delay of his supposed PBA debut this week. Listed as a 6-foot-10 sweet-shooting big who averaged 13.6 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Indiana Mad Ants in the 2022-23 NBA G-League, Mr. Boatwright is expected to suit up when the Beermen face Phoenix in their Christmas Day assignment.

With Mr. Boatwright watching, Mr. Aska delivered 25 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals in lifting SMB to a 98-93 victory over TNT Sunday. He had 10-9-3 in a previous 95-82 disposal of Barangay Ginebra two nights before.

“Ivan played his heart out. He gave his 110 percent and you know, he told me he just wants to go out with a bang and so he did a great job (Sunday),” said Mr. Gallent of the outgoing import.

“Since I got here, that’s the very same motive — give everything I got, do everything the coach asked me and I just came to do the job,” said Mr. Aska.

The Virgin Islander averaged 24.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals for SMB, which felt it needed a more explosive import with June Mar Fajardo, Vic Manuel, Jeron Teng and Simon Enciso sidelined by injuries.

“I love it here. I love the staff, the coaches, my teammates. Ever since I came here, I’ve felt welcome,” said Mr. Aska, who also expressed interest to return to the PBA someday.

“I think if I get another opportunity, I’m going to give everything, everything that you see me today (in this maiden stint). But other than that, I’ll probably come back working on my threes.”

Notes: Teammates Ivan Aska and Terrence Romeo downplayed the heated argument they had early in the fourth quarter. This erupted after a miscommunication led to Mr. Romeo cutting in front of a dribbling Mr. Aska, resulting in a turnover. “It’s the heat of the game. (We both want to score). (There’s no problem),” said Mr. Romeo, who thought Mr. Aska intended to give a handoff in that play. Mr. Aska admitted to his mistake, too. “We were just saying how we love each other, how we both made a mistake. I just told them at the end of the day, let’s just go and finish this game,” he said. “It’s just the heat of the game. Even off the court, I give him a hug, I love him (Mr. Romeo) like a brother.” — Olmin Leyba