Beermen bank on defense in squeaker over Gin Kings

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@RLeongsonINQ

03:41 PM January 9th, 2017

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By: Randolph B. Leongson, January 9th, 2017 03:41 PM
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Known for its formidable offense, the two-time defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer proved that it can also pull off gritty wins through defense.

And that’s exactly how the Beermen did it in turning back Barangay Ginebra in a close 72-70 decision on Sunday in front of a loud Big Dome crowd.

Though the Beermen squandered a 10-point lead in the final three minutes, Alex Cabagnot noted that luckily, the team is more than just a high-octane offensive team.

“I think playing defense is always been part of our forte, I want to say. It’s one of the things we do well with three of the best defensive players in Chris Ross, June Mar (Fajardo), and Arwind (Santos) out there,” he said.

“We’re really a defensive team. It just doesn’t get noticed because we make a lot of baskets.”

With Ginebra raging back and trimming the lead to just two, 72-70, the Beermen had to clamp down on defense, with Santos hauling down two crucial offensive rebounds in the final minute and the team staging one last defensive stand to preserve the victory.

“Some games are like that and you got to actually learn from it, win or lose,” noted the playmaker. “We have to go back and use it as a reference, and hopefully in the end, stay ahead of the learning curve.”

Cabagnot led San Miguel in scoring with 16 points as both teams shot below 40 percent from the field.

Coach Leo Austria is also thankful for these kinds of games, noting that it better prepares his squad going to its final three games, all against equally tough foes in Rain or Shine, GlobalPort, and TNT.

“I think this kind of game is what we need right now,” he said. “I’m so happy with the team because they really fought hard. They refused to lose. We’re able to recover and control the game late.”

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