Reigning champion San Miguel Beer and Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) are both aiming for a second straight victory when they collide today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen will take on the Road Warriors in the first game at 4:15 p.m. to be followed by the Star Hotshots and the Blackwater Elite match at 7 p.m.
Coach Leo Austria of San Miguel Beer said the Beermen should double their defensive effort since the Road Warriors are known for being a high scoring team because of their import Henry Bill Walker who posted 44 points in his first game last Saturday against Blackwater.
“We have to limit them in scoring. Defense will be our main weapon against them,” Austria told The Manila Times. “NLEX is also one of the strongest teams right now because they have a talented lineup.”
Austria said that Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas and Chris Lutz are still recuperating from injuries, “They are not yet available to play that’s why it is hard but I’m still confident that we can make it. I’m sure our import and our players will be there to step up.”
Import Arizona Reid, June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Brian Huruela, Jay-R Reyes, Gary David and Ronald Tubid will lead the Beermen anew. Reid finished with 41 points and 10 rebounds while Fajardo had 21 points to power San Miguel Beer’s 124-113 win over Phoenix last week.
Despite a thin lineup, NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez still considers the Beermen dangerous in terms of offense, “SMB is a still very strong team offensively – scoring 124 points last game even without Arwind.”
Besides Walker, NLEX will bank on the prowess of Kevin Alas, Paul Asi Taulava, AKL Rodrigue, guard Garvo Lanete, forward Sean Anthony, Eman Monfort, Jonas Villanueva and Mac Baracael.
“With Reid there, it is going to be a tough game,” Fernandez added. “We just have to play as a solid team with defense against SMB if we want to give ourselves a chance to win the game.”
The winner between San Miguel Beer and NLEX will join Meralco and Mahindra at the top of the standings.
Meanwhile, the Star Hotshots under coach Jason Webb, and the Blackwater Elite will try to bounce back from their opening game losses when they clash in the second game.
The Hotshots lost to the Mahindra Enforcers on Friday while the Elite were beaten by the Road Warriors.
Import Marquis Blakely is expected to step up for the Hotshots with the support of James Yap and Peter June Simon.
Blackwater will depend on import Eric Dawson, Reil Cervantes, Carlo Lastimosa, Jerick Canada and Mike Cortez in their fight against the Hotshots.