Well-rested Beermen rout revamped Road Warriors
Game Today (Ibalong Centrum for Recreation) 5 p.m. – Alaska vs TNT KaTropa
It turned out that San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria had little to worry. Coming off a long break Austria couldn’t use effectively, the Beermen shook off a bad start before going on to rout NLEX, 114-108 for the perfect warm-up to a critical phase of their elimination round schedule in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that would prove critical to San Miguel’s drive for a top two playoff berth.
Charles Rhodes scored 37 points and had 19 rebounds and Chris Ross missed a triple double by just three boards after 15 points and 11 assists as the Beermen led by as large as 24 at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay before tapering off a bit in the stretch and rising to 6-1.
The win kept the Beermen well on track to a top two finish – and a twice-to-beat incentive in the first round of the playoffs – as they enter a tough phase of their schedule with matches against Barangay Ginebra and Alaska coming up.
“We were sluggish in the first quarter. I was really worried coming into this game because of our long layoff,” Austria said after getting all starters and a total of six men in double digits,, counting June Mar Fajardo.
Fajardo, San Miguel’s 6-foot-10 cornerstone, suited up despite coming from national team duty just the night before and contributed 12 points in a 30-minute stint.
“I’m happy to see him back in the lineup,” Austria said of Fajardo. “I salute his professionalism.”
Austria, though, said that he and coaching staff will finetune their defense, especially against the Gin Kings on Sunday. Ginebra, incidentally, was still playing defending champion Rain or Shine at press time, looking to keep in step with the Beermen.
Charles Rhodes of San Miguel is uncontested as he dunks the ball in a game against NLEX.