No. 1 Beermen not taking Hotshots lightly
With the odds stacked heavily on their side, the San Miguel Beermen pursue their drive for a third straight championship, looking to deliver the knockout blow on the Star Hotshots in their quarterfinal matchup in the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Monday night.
It’s a duel between the playoff top seed and the last seed, with the latter needing to win twice in a row to steal the matchup.
As the elims topnotchers, the Beermen automatically advance to the Final Four with a win Monday or Wednesday.
“Pinagtrabahuhan namin ng husto yun twice-to-beat. Hindi dapat sayangin,” said San Miguel top forward Arwind Santos.
SMB coach Leo Austria said they would take on the Star Hotshots with a lot of caution.
“They barely made the playoffs, but the Star Hotshots are the Star Hotshots. We all know what they’re capable of doing,” said Austria.
The league has seen a number of teams surviving a twice-to-win disadvantage. Star coach Jason Webb is optimistic his team has got what it takes to do the trick.
“Even we’re in a twice-to-win disadvantage, at least we’re there. We’re alive and we’re fighting,” Webb said.
But the Hotshots really have to step up if they’re to neutralize SMB’s enormous firepower.
For the record, they suffered their worst defeat in the elims at the hands of Tyler Wilkerson and his teammates, 98-117.
Wilkerson has been on a great ride, averaging 37 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 19 blocks and 1.8 steals.
Marcio Lassiter (15.7 ppg), Alex Cabagnot (15.0), Junmar Fajardo (12.5) and Santos (11.2) are the SMB locals averaging in double figures. Chris Ross, meanwhile, puts in all-around numbers of 8.5 points, 6.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game.
Even with Fajardo not in the best of shape, the Beermen rolled into the playoffs with eight wins against three losses.
Meanwhile, the Hotshots needed to win their last game in the elims versus the Mahindra Enforcers, 86-73, to salvage the last quarterfinals berth.
They have been on an on-and-off ride. Worse, James Yap is out with a strained calf.
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