San Miguel Beer is aware of the slow starts that usually haunt their games. Keeping this in mind, they managed to win over the hard-fighting Phoenix Super LPG, 108-100, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Coach Leo Austria said, “We’re seeing there’s an opportunity. The past two seasons, two bubble (tournaments), you could all see that it was hard to push the players. Physically, mentally and emotionally, they are not in shape because of the pandemic.”
The Beermen turned to its potent core of veterans to secure the win. Spearheading the charge was June Mar Fajardo, who asserted his dominance right away to get 24 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
Vic Manuel contributed as many points, while Chris Ross added 17 more to show their might as they started their bid to reclaim the PBA Philippine Cup.
“This time, I think, they are seeing the difference. They’ve been saying this is our conference, the all-Filipino. But I told them we have to walk the talk.”
And the Beermen did just that. Phoenix rookies Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano, as well as skipper Matthew Wright, made it a tough fight, but San Miguel managed to keep it together for most of the game.
The team unleashed its killer blows at the most opportune time. With 18 seconds remaining in the game, Ross hit a heady layup. The next sequence saw a rebound from Marcio Lassiter, which set up Fajardo for a clean look.
That sealed the final tally ultimately.
“I told the (players) that they will be the ones to decide what to do. That we’re just helping. I think this is the first time we had an off-season training, and we’re able to address the things we needed to (address), especially our chemistry,” Austria said.
He added, “You all could see what they’ve been doing earlier. Though I think that that’s not enough. I’m expecting that the (coming games) will be hard for us because we’re the team to beat whenever it’s all-Filipino.”
The Beermen will face NLEX next. NLEX, who were fresh from a comeback victory over Terrafirma earlier in the day, scored 105-102.