Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer guns for its second straight victory against Phoenix in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Beermen are coming off a 99-92 win over Meralco in their first game in the conference and will try to duplicate their success in their 7 p.m. encounter with the Fuel Masters.
In the first game, sister teams TNT KaTropa and NLEX clash at 4:15 p.m.
San Miguel mentor Leo Austria warns his players not to take Phoenix lightly as it is the only team that they did not beat in the Philippine Cup plus the fact that the team of head coach Ariel Vanguardia has a formidable import.
“Phoenix is one of the teams we have to take seriously and they were the only team that we didn’t beat last conference. They are also playing well. At the same time, this is just our second game after a long lay off,” Austria told The Manila Times.
“Although we won last game, we are not yet in the level of our competitiveness. It is not easy playing here in this import-laden conference so we have to work double hard to beat Phoenix,” he added.
Beermen import Charles Rhodes debuted with 22 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks and Austria feels Rhodes is the right reinforcement for them in the tournament.
“We didn’t get a heavy scorer because we want everybody to get involved in offense. Rhodes is the right import for us because he is a good defender and rebounder. He also helped June Mar (Fajardo) at the shaded area in our first game,” Austria said. “I believe Rhodes could show us more in the upcoming games.”
Fajardo had 24 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks while Alex Cabagnot added 23 points and nine assists for San Miguel against Meralco.
Phoenix is currently holding a 2-2 slate and Vanguardia said they need to bring their A-game to stand a chance against the All-Filipino champs.
“We need to play a near perfect game to upset a giant team. We need to keep them off the glass and make them play our pace,” said Vanguardia.
The Fuel Masters are coming off a 94-91 win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last Saturday in Davao City behind the all-around performance of import Jameel McKay who had 15 points, 28 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Meanwhile, KaTropa import Donte Greene tries to bounce back from a so-so performance as he tries to lead his team to a third straight win against the Road Warriors.
Greene, who replaced National Basketball Association veteran Lou Amundson, struggled in his first outing with 22 points on 9-of-28 shooting although he had 13 rebounds in 36 minutes in their 92-89 win over Blackwater.
NLEX hopes to snap a four-game skid as the squad of coach Yeng Guiao are sharing the cellar with the Elite.