By Jonas Terrado
San Miguel Beer made a big move in hopes of bolstering its Grand Slam bid Monday by shipping Christian Standhardinger to NorthPort in exchange for the vastly-improved Mo Tautuaa.
The league quietly announced the trade through its official website late in the afternoon as the Beermen decided to let go of Standhardinger after selecting him as the top overall pick in the 2017 draft.
SMB’s decision comes a day after its unbeaten start in the PBA Governors’ Cup came to an end with a 129-124 loss to Barangay Ginebra at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With a 4-1 record, the Beermen stand a good chance to complete the sixth Triple Crown in the league’s 44-year history.
By sending the Fil-German big man to the Batang Pier, the Beermen were able to get Tautuaa, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 Draft.
After struggling to find his niche at TNT KaTorpa, the team that took him that year, Tautuaa blossomed into one of the PBA’s best big man since moving to NorthPort in April 2018.
He is likely to become one of the leading candidates for the season’s Most Improved Player award after stellar performances in the first two conferences.
The Fil-Tongan averaged 18.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the Philippine Cup before producing 15.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the Commissioner’s Cup.
His numbers slipped to 11.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the ongoing Governors’ Cup.
A knee injury has bothered Standhardinger since the start of the conference, posting just 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in four games.
When healthy, Standhardinger can provide the needs as seen in the Philippine Cup when he was SMB’s third leading scorer at 17.5 points per game with 7.0 rebounds.
Team officials from both teams were unavailable for comment when the Bulletin sought their reaction to the deal.
Tautuaa is set to make his San Miguel debut on Sunday against Columbian at the Big Dome.
Interestingly, Standharinger’s first match with NorthPort will be against his former on Oct. 23 at the Cuneta Astrodome.