By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE undefeated San Miguel Beermen collide with the defending champions Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok at the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup today where they hope to keep their clean slate intact.
Set for 7 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, the Beermen (3-0), one of just two teams left sans a defeat in the ongoing edition of the season-ending PBA tournament, will try to maintain their solid form to date against the streaking Hotshots (3-1).
San Miguel is coming off a hard-earned 98-94 victory over the NLEX Road Warriors in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Oct. 4.
Import Dez Wells took charge for the Beermen in the gutsy win, scoring 22 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, including draining key baskets down the stretch to tow his team to the victory.
NLEX did a good job in holding off San Miguel for much of the contest but the latter was just resilient.
The Beermen caught a break with 23 seconds left when Mr. Wells found an opening and drove to the basket to score and hand his team a 95-94 advantage.
It was a leverage that San Miguel capitalized on as it held on for the victory, which added further motor to their push for a rare PBA Grand Slam this season.
Providing support to the stellar play of Mr. Wells was Alex Cabagnot who finished with 20 markers.
Reigning league most valuable player June Mar Fajardo, meanwhile, had 16 points in the San Miguel victory.
“I really told him to take charge,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria of his import as they grappled all game long against NLEX.
The Beermen are angling to claim the Governors’ Cup title after winning the previous conferences — Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup — to chalk up another league Grand Slam which they first accomplished in 1989.
4TH STRAIGHT WIN FOR MAGNOLIA?
Meanwhile, out to stop San Miguel’s surge is Magnolia, which has successfully picked things up after opening the tournament with a loss.
The Hotshots have won their last three matches to make their way to the top half of the standings.
Their last victory came at the expense of the struggling Alaska Aces, 95-90, on Oct. 6.
Import Romeo Travis has been showing the way for the defending champions with all-around numbers of 20.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.5 steals and two blocks per contest.
Mr. Romeo was also the same import who led the Hotshots to the same title last year.
Big man Ian Sangalang has been good for 16.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for Magnolia with Mark Barroca adding 13.8 points and Paul Lee 10.3 points.
Asked about their game today against the Beermen, Mr. Travis said they are treating it as another game to play, not getting too high nor too low on it.
“It means something but it’s not a really huge game, you know. So we gonna go out here, play hard and see what happens. If we win, great. If we don’t, we gonna learn,” said Mr. Travis.
Also playing today at 4:30 p.m. are the Columbian Dyip (2-2) and Blackwater Elite (1-2).