San Miguel, Rhodes pin title hopes on familiarity

Champion Beermen get back to work (1:01)

Five-peat PBA Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen have resumed training a week before their 2019 Commissioner's Cup opener with returning import Charles Rhodes. (1:01)

Charles Rhodes led San Miguel to a title in the 2017 Commissioner's Cup, but was unable to suit up for the Beermen last year because he didn't want to miss the birth of his third child.

The Beermen were forced to tap other imports and ended up with Renaldo Balkman, whose lifetime ban had just been lifted by the PBA at the time. San Miguel still, however, fell prey to Justin Brownlee and Ginebra in the finals.

But now that he is back, Rhodes is keen on helping the Beermen reclaim the throne and set the decorated franchise up for another shot at a Grand Slam.

"I think that's any import goal. It should be. If it's not, they need to get rid of him. Every import should want to win the championship. And that's mine, every year I come here," he said after the team's first official practice on Monday.

His mission won't be a breeze, though. Brownlee is again reinforcing defending champion Ginebra, while other teams have tabbed the services of top-tier imports like Terrence Jones, the former Houston Rocket who is currently making waves with the TNT KaTropa.

Rhodes, a former Best Import, is unfazed.

"I watched a few minutes, five, 10 minutes of a couple games, and I'm liking what I'm seeing. There's a lot of tough imports out there and that's what I like," said Rhodes. "The better the competition, the better I'm gonna play. So I'm just looking forward to playing against a lot of great guys."

SMB head coach Leo Austria believes Rhodes will be able to ease into the system in time for their first game against the vastly-improved NorthPort on June 5.

"That's very important (familiarity), especially he's already comfortable with his teammates. He goes out with his teammates sometimes," Austria said. "They have a good relationship, and that's very important. They will complement each other."

Rhodes shared the same sentiment.

"Most of these guys they added, I played against already and I got a lot of respect for. When you're out here it's all about chemistry. Our team is all about chemistry. And I'm a great import that loves chemistry and I think we get along well," he said.