In what was supposed to be a slow news day, the San Miguel Beermen and North Port Batang Pier decided to shake the PBA landscape a bit. In a trade that seemingly came out of nowhere, they swapped former first round picks in Christian Standhardinger and Mo Tautuaa. Standhardinger will look to get a larger role with the Batang Pier while Tautuaa will get a chance to help the Beermen achieve their bid for a Grand Slam. But what does it mean for both teams and both players? We’ll take a look here.
A Fresh Start
Standhardinger’s overall fit with franchise center June Mar Fajardo has always been a questionable one. He’s had to sacrifice much of his game to try and adjust, from being the main man in Gilas Pilipinas and Hong Kong Eastern in the ABL to pretty much a reliever for Fajardo and an import irritant. He had a dominant run in the Philippine Cup where he tallied 17.5 points and 7 rebounds per outing. But since then, his numbers and minutes have progressively gotten worse, averaging just 3.5 points and 4 boards in 13 minutes a game in the Governor’s Cup. It certainly didn’t help that Arwind Santos found his groove again and Kelly Nabong stepped up, both clearly ahead of him in the depth chart.
With North Port, Standhardinger can have a new beginning of sorts. He’ll likely slot in immediately as their starting center with his talent and how much Northport lacks good frontcourt players outside of Mychal Ammons and Sean Anthony. Given his speed for his size and his propensity to keep moving, playing in coach Pido Jarencio’s uptempo, pick-and-roll heavy offense will probably suit him perfectly. He’s still a 6-9 behemoth that is hard to stop on the move and should be made even more dangerous with Robert Bolick at the helm setting him up.
With a 2-4 record, Batang Pier will certainly hope that this swap will be enough to help them get out of the bottom of the standings and make a playoff push similar to last conference’s. Tautuaa has been great for them but they probably needed someone potentially more dominant. We’ve seen how Standhardinger can put up the numbers when given the chance. With increased minutes and an increased role, he’ll have the chance to prove it. Of course, this is all assuming he stays a while. You know how it is.
A Rare Opportunity
It’s been well-documented how Mo Tautuaa didn’t have the smoothest of starts in the PBA. After being hyped as the next dominant big man for the TNT KaTropa and dubbed the “Kraken stopper”, he struggled to live up to expectations. He was eventually shipped out to North Port, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He worked on his face-up game and established himself as a starter-quality big man. It’s hard to argue against his numbers this season so far at 15 points, 8.6 rebounds and 34% 3PT-shooting.
His ability to operate both on the perimeter and his developing inside game should make him a natural fit for San Miguel and give their front court more flexibility. The problem with the Fajardo-Standhardinger pairing was that it clogged up the paint too much for both of them. It basically limited Standhardinger’s role and minutes to covering for when Fajardo needed a rest or was having the rare off-night. With Tautuaa, it’s a given that he can cover for him at center but his three-point shooting also means he won’t clog up the lane for their MVP.
The pressure will definitely be on for Tautuaa and San Miguel. Fair or not, this trade might be looked at as one of the key turning points on if they can grab that elusive Grand Slam or not. As of now, it’s a pretty ballsy move to do it in the middle of the conference playing good basketball with a near perfect import. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But they must have felt like it was time to move on and grab a better fitting big next to Fajardo even if he’s not necessarily the better talent. Remember, this is the same team that gambled on Terrence Romeo and got two chips out of it. As for Tautuaa himself, he’ll not only have an opportunity to help them get that grandslam, but also an opportunity to cement himself as a part of their core today and in the future. That’s hard to pass up.
Who won the trade?
We can probably say that both benefitted just because both players theoretically fit very well with their new teams and it was a simple one-on-one swap. Standhardinger gets to have an opportunity to fully unleash his game while Tautuaa, in a way, gets a chance to redeem himself by playing for a contender again. For whatever it’s worth, next Wednesday’s game between the San Miguel Beermen and North Port Batang Pier just got a whole lot more interesting.