SMB destroys Thailand five
Grabs ABL lead with 14th winBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SAN MIGUEL Beer, despite not playing at full strength, still proved too tough for Chang Thailand to handle.
Coach Bobby Parks had the luxury of shuffling all 12 of his players as the Beermen ripped the Slammers, 103-76, yesterday for the solo lead in the Asean Basketball League.
Nick Fazekas led five Beermen in double figures with 22 points on top of seven rebounds and five assists as they toppled the defending champion Slammers at the Thai Japanese Association Gym in Bangkok.
With their fourth straight victory in a 14-4 card, the Beermen are now half a game ahead of the AirAsia Philippine Patriots (13-4), who took a 25-point beating at the hands of the Indonesia Warriors while playing with just one import on Saturday.
Chang Thailand dropped a fourth straight game, stayed in the cellar with a 5-13 record, and practically bowed out of the playoffs.
The Beermen are fancied to beat their last three elimination-round foes—the Singapore Slingers, the Bangkok Cobras and the Saigon Heat—and draw the lightest possible assignment in the playoffs.
Leo Avenido sparked San Miguel’s breakaway after the halftime break, turning a 14-point Beermen lead to a 64-44 bubble on Roger Yap’s three-pointer.
Imports Christopher Garnett and Calvin Williams carried the fight for the Slammers, who came no closer than 17 points.
Chris Banchero and Avenido had 15 points each, Duke Crews added 14 and Benedict Fernandez had 10 for the Beermen, who swept their three-game, head-to-head duel with the Patriots in the eliminations.
After Fernandez drilled in a three-pointer for an 89-57 lead early in the fourth, Parks started recalling his aces to the bench.
Though the Beermen were beaten off the boards, 22-30, they rotated the ball well and had a 29-12 advantage in assists.
The Slammers actually had a great start, jumping out to an early 11-point lead.
But Banchero and Avenido combined in a dazzling 16-4 run spanning three minutes late in the period with Crews capping the attack with a three-point play that tied it at 26.
SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN 103—Fazekas 22, Avenido 15, Banchero 15, Crew 14, Fernandez 10, Gonzales 7, Yap 7, Ferriols 6, Baguion 4, Dimaunahan 2, Fajardo 1, Cabatu 0.
THAILAND SLAMMERS 76—Williams 20, Apiromvilaichai 18, Garnett 14, Leynes 11, Lertmalaiporn 6, Angeles 5, Suttisin 2, Lakhan 0, Wongsawangtum 0, Jantuma 0.
Quarters: 26-all, 52-38, 79-56, 103-76