February 24, 2018, 10:26 pm
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San Mig stakes win run vs NLEX

DEFENDING champion San Miguel Beer stakes its unbeaten record when it battles a skidding NLEX side tonight in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Astrodome in Pasay.

The Beermen will go into the match on a high, having won three straight, the last an 88-76 victory over TNT last Jan. 13 in Iloilo.

Reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter are expected to lead SMB’s charge.

The duel is set at 7 p.m. after GlobalPort and Blackwater collide in the curtain-raiser at 4:30.

After starting the season-opening tourney with back-to-back wins, the Road Warriors have lost their last two, including a 94-105 setback to Magnolia last Jan. 14 that spoiled rookie Kiefer Ravena’s career-high 31 points.

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is convinced the Beermen are the odds-on favorites this conference and warned the rest of the field that SMB will be tougher to beat when last year’s top draft pick Christian Standhardinger joins the team.

“San Miguel has the upper hand now, and if you want to beat San Miguel, this is the best time to beat them, although no team has yet found a formula to beat them this conference,” said Guiao.

“Pero mas mahirap silang talunin next conference kapag nandyan na si Standhardinger, so siguro all the teams stand their best chance of beating them now, and in the future, baka walang ng tumalo sa kanila, kaya habang maaga, pagpursigihan na natin na talunin ang San Miguel,” he added. “We’ll prepare hard for them on Friday.”

The Road Warriors, who are in a six-way tie with Alaska, Blackwater, Rain or Shine, TNT, and Phoenix at fourth with a 2-2 card, will count on Ravena, Kevin Alas, and JR Quinahan.

They also hope the likes of Larry Fonacier, Alex Mallari, Juami Tiongson, and Cyrus Baguio will bounce back after having pedestrian numbers the last time out.

Guiao said he had no other choice but to rely on Ravena in their battle against the Hotshots because his other players failed to hit the mark. He said that can’t be the case if they want to make a run in the tourney.

“Sometimes you don’t have a choice. If all your other offensive options are not working, then we just have to go with what he’s working. In this situation, it was Kiefer,” he said.
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