ABL finals: Beermen have edge in clash of strangersBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
FOR San Miguel Beer coach Bobby Parks, the championship showdown pitting the Beermen and the Indonesia Warriors may seem like a battle between two new squads.
“They’re not the same team we played before,” said Parks. “They made changes in their team, sort of overhauling it. So we haven’t met this team. But they also haven’t met us since we [added key players] to our team. So it’s like starting from scratch.”
The Beermen and the Warriors clash in Game 1 of the Asean Basketball League finals at 4 p.m. this Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
As the tournament top seed, the Beermen hold the homecourt advantage in the best-of-three series.
“Our advantage is we have a deeper bench,” said Rajko Toroman, the former Smart Gilas coach serving as consultant for the Beermen. “We have 12 players who can make a good job for us. I don’t think Indonesia is that a deep a team.”
Aside from a fantastic import duo in Nick Fazekas and Duke Crews, the Beermen boast a solid local cast led by Leo Avenido, Chris Banchero and June Mar Fajardo.
“Indonesia can hurt you in so many ways,” Parks said yesterday during the PSA Forum co-presented by Smart, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp and Shakey’s at Shakey’s UN Avenue. “They’ve got good inside presence, they’ve got shooters. But I have confidence in my team.”
A retooled Warriors—who stunned the second-ranked AirAsia Philippine Patriots in the semifinals with a 2-0 sweep—surged into the title round behind imports Steve Thomas and Evan Brock, former MVP Mario Wuysang and standout Filipino-American guard Stanley Pringle.
“Pringle is pretty much the motor of that team,” said Banchero. “If we can stop him, we can come out and win this game. I’m not worried about their imports, we also have two NBA-caliber imports.”
“We won three games against them, but that’s a different team, so we have to do our homework,” said Avenido.
Toroman said the Beermen are back in top form after going through the full distance against the Westports Malaysia Dragons, 2-1, in the semifinals.