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UNTOUCHABLE

San Miguel Beer still unscathed; Meralco defense junks KIA

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:36 AM January 25, 2018

San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo makes GlobalPort’s Kelly Nabong think twice on an attempt underneath the basket. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Leo Austria didn’t sound boastful at all when he said that “beating San Miguel (Beer) is a big deal for any team right now.”

And after five games in their PBA Philippine Cup schedule, the Beermen have remained untouchable as they continue to chug their way to a much-awaited confrontation with the only team listed in the pre-season as the one capable of spoiling its date with history.

GlobalPort tried its hardest on Wednesday night in trying to put a blemish on the Beermen’s record, only to sputter when it truly mattered as San Miguel—minus one superstar guard—gutted out a 107-93 victory over the Batang Pier at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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“I was really expecting this kind of game; they (Batang Pier) were playing really well,” Austria said after his Beermen broke away only in the final five minutes to snap GlobalPort’s two-game winning streak.

San Miguel pulled off the victory with Alex Cabagnot out because of a foot injury. Austria needed to pull a rabbit out of his hat in Brian Heruela, who earned for himself another major stint on Sunday against Barangay Ginebra.

“I am happy for my players who came off the bench, especially Heruela,” said Austria, who got 17 points, six steals and five assists from his backup point guard.

June Mar Fajardo scored 34 points to go with 12 rebounds and three blocks in another mammoth effort that bailed the Beermen out. He gets time to recharge for the game against the Gin Kings after playing 40 solid minutes Wednesday night.

Austria admitted to being “excited” with the looming Ginebra game “because of the crowd supporting them (Kings). And it’s going to be a war.”

GlobalPort couldn’t hold on to an 85-83 lead going into the final 5:26 and dropped to 2-3.

Ginebra has the lineup that could match-up with San Miguel as far as size is concerned, but with Greg Slaughter not playing the last time for the Kings, the 7-foot behemoth is listed as doubtful for Sunday.

Austria, though, is not about to bite.

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“We will prepare as if Greg (Slaughter) will play,” he said. “And you know coach Tim (Cone), he always comes up with surprises. We will be ready for them.”

In the first game, Meralco annihilated KIA Picanto, 105-76, to snap a three-game losing streak.

“They (Bolts) played with a little bit of purpose on defense right from the start,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “We need to continue it when we play GlobalPort (on Sunday) and hopefully, take this kind of game into our next assignments.”

The Bolts peeled away from a tight first quarter by holding the Picanto to 37 points in the middle two frames, picking up the intensity on the defensive end, which Black hopes his team would take to its next game and the ones following that.

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TAGS: KIA, Meralco, PBA Philippine Cup, San Miguel Beer
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