Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer will try to stay undefeated in four games as it faces Mahindra today in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
The only unbeaten squad in the 12-team field, the Beermen hope to make it four in a row against the Floodbuster in the first game at 4:15 p.m. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) will clash in the second game at 7 p.m.
Four-time champion coach Leo Austria warns his players not to take the Floodbuster lightly as the latter is fighting for survival.
“Mahindra was playing aggressively and they lost those games by close margins,” Austria said. “It only means that we cannot take Mahindra lightly. Even last conference, we have a hard time dealing with them.”
Import Charles Rhodes, who is averaging 23.3 points and 10.6 rebounds in three games, is one of the keys in San Miguel’s 3-0 start and he’s blending well with the locals.
“Rhodes is doing what we wanted him to do so far in the last three games and I believe he’ll show us of what he can do more in the upcoming games,” added Austria.
The Floodbuster, who lost their last three games against Rain or Shine (95-99), TNT (84-86) and Alaska (92-98) by an average of four points, are expected to go all-out against the Beermen and try to improve their current 1-5 win-loss record.
“We know San Miguel Beer is going to be a handful to deal with because when June Mar Fajardo and Charles Rhodes make up their minds to get into the paint, they are extremely difficult to contain,” said Mahindra assistant coach Chris Gavina.
“Going into this game, of course, we know what type of championship effort and display of executing the details it will take to beat San Miguel, but we’re always up for the challenge,” added Gavina, who is going to bank on import Keith Wright.
Meanwhile, Gin Kings’ Tim Cone told his players not to feel overconfident against the Road Warriors, the remaining winless team in the tournament.
“NLEX is incredibly scary,” said Cone. “They’ve yet to win a game, but they have been in every game they have played, including leading TNT by 29 points. Needless to say, they are a team not to be taken lightly.”
“They are figuring out Coach Yeng’s system and playing better in every game, and that is something we have discussed and hopefully that has sunk in to the players and they’ll be ready,” he added.
Ginebra, which will rely on the versatility of Justin Brownlee, is coming off back-to-back wins and now holding a 2-1 card.
NLEX, on the other hand, still winless in six games and a loss will make it harder for them to advance to the quarterfinal round.