San Miguel Beer hopes to keep its unbeaten record intact as it battles Star in the resumption of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Philippine Cup champions, undefeated after two starts, square off with the Hotshots in the main game at 6:45 p.m. right after the opening-match between Meralco and Blackwater at 4:15 p.m.
The Beermen are the remaining unbeaten team in the mid-season conference after winning their first two games against the Bolts (99-92) and Phoenix (110-88).
Three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and import Charles Rhodes are carrying the load for San Miguel in its first two starts with the 6’10 local center averaging 23 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while the import had 20.5 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest.
They will be facing the Hotshots who are coming off a 98-113 loss to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last week. They are currently tied with Alaska and TNT KaTropa for the third to fifth spots both carrying identical 4-1 win-loss slates.
“I think it is another grinding game for us. We need to play our A game together in order for us to beat San Miguel Beer,” said Star coach Chito Victolero.
“We just have to stay focused on our game plan and execute on both ends for 48 minutes,” he added.
Meanwhile, Meralco head coach Norman Black said the key in beating the Elite is to limit the production of Blackwater import Greg Smith, who is coming off a 40-point, 19-rebound performance in their 118-113 win over GlobalPort.
It was the Elite’s first win in the tournament after a 0-4 start.
“Blackwater has been playing good basketball this conference so we must prepare well and avoid any type of letdown. It may come down to the battle in the paint between two imports as Smith has been quite dominant so far,” said Black.
“We are hoping Alex (Stepheson) will hold his own and continue to control the boards as he has done in our past games,” added Black, whose team is at solo second spot with a 5-1 mark.
Playmaker Baser Amer has been a revelation for the Bolts in the Commissioner’s Cup as the former San Beda College guard is averaging 16.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.
Black said forward Cliff Hodge is doubtful to play in Sunday’s match due to a calf injury.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac hopes that his wards are motivated enough to face a veteran team like the Bolts.
“We will be aiming for back-to-back wins in our game against Meralco. We hope that our victory against GlobalPort last week has given us the confidence,” said Isaac.