Beermen, Bolts eye share of lead


Defending champion San Miguel Beer guns for its second consecutive victory when it takes on Meralco in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup today at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.

After blasting Phoenix (104-96) in the Season 43 opener last December 17, the Beermen try to keep their winning ways as they take on the Bolts in the second game at 7 p.m. while Kia and Phoenix seek for their first win as they clash in the 4:15 p.m. opener.

San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria warns his players not to take Meralco lightly as the team is riding the momentum of a huge 103-98 win over Blackwater behind the 25-point output of new recruit Nino Canaleta.

“When Meralco acquired Canaleta in the free agency, they already hit a jackpot. He is our main concern right now because he is playing a big man. At the same time, he wanted to prove something as what we’ve seen in his last game against Blackwater,” Austria, the five-time PBA champion coach, said.

June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

“All games are very important for us. Meralco is also playing so well since the last conference that’s why the players are practicing very hard,” added Austria, who drew 23 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four blocks from four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo in San Miguel Beer’s last win over Phoenix.

Meralco, the back-to-back finalists in Governors Cup, knew that defending against Fajardo is no easy task.

“Going up against San Miguel Beer is always a tough challenge because of its talent and size. Focus will be on trying to defend the paint against June Mar (Fajardo) while doing a good job of closing out on their shooters,” said coach Norman Black of Meralco, who is going to bank on the backcourt duo of Chris Newsome and Baser Amer.

“We will still be undermanned but we will be out there fighting to pick up a win.”

The winner of San Miguel Beer-Meralco game will join Northern Luzon Expressway on top of the team standings with 2-0 win-loss record.

The Picanto and the Fuel Masters, meanwhile, are going to chase for their first win in their match up as they try to bounce back from opening game defeats.

Kia, which lost to NLEX (119-115) last Wednesday, is going to try anew its ‘unconventional’ game, this time against Phoenix.

The Fuel Masters, under the tutelage of new coach Louie Alas, are determined to bounce back with Matthew Wright and rookie Jason Perkins leading the charge.


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