THE ADDITION of two hulking PBA stars isn’t the only reason San Miguel Beer likes its chances in Season 4 of the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Picking up from the lessons of last year’s debut run, coach Leo Austria thinks the Beermen’s better chemistry adds to the intimidating presence new recruits Asi Taulava and Eric Menk bring.
“Thinking that talent is enough to win was our big mistake last year,” said Austria. “We relied solely on talent and we got overconfident. Talent alone is not enough to win games. This time we should also have discipline and play better as a team.”
The Beermen led virtually all the way last year only to fall short in the finals against the Indonesia Warriors.
Both squads meet again in the season opener at 8 p.m. (Manila time) this Friday at the Warriors’ homecourt in Mahaka Square in Jakarta.
All games will be aired live by Fox Sports over ESPN, said Jude Turcuato, head of Fox International Channels Philippines.
Taulava and Menk, both former PBA MVPs, lead the retooled Beermen, who also tapped American imports Brian Williams and Gabe Freeman, Paolo Hubalde, JR Cawaling, Chris Banchero and reigning MVP Leo Avenido.
“This team is a lot stronger than last year’s team,” said Banchero, the 6-foot-1 guard who had an impressive debut last season. “We picked up a lot of pieces, especially the PBA players and the two imports.”
“We’re focused on one goal, to bring home the championship,” Taulava said in yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate. “There’s no such thing in our mind as second or third.”
“It’s an exciting time for both of us,” said Menk. “The opportunity to play with Asi is not something I really expected. I think we’ll make each other better and push ourselves.”
Completing the Beermen’s roster are Taulava’s co-captain RJ Rizada, Val Acuña, Mike Burtscher, Axel Doruelo, Christian Luanzon and Hans Thiele.