Beermen shoot for solo ABL lead vs Warriors

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San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria expects to see an Indonesian squad far different from the team his Beermen beat in the season opener last month.

“We cannot be complacent against this team, they’re starting to pick up and jell,” said Austria as his Beermen shoot for the solo lead against the streaking Warriors in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) today.

Gametime of last season’s finals rematch is set at 5 p.m. at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Last January, the Beermen dealt the Warriors a rough start to their back-to-back title bid with a 64-53 road victory in Jakarta.

Playing minus standout guard Stanley Pringle—who’s sidelined for three months due to a meniscus injury—the Warriors again dropped their next game versus the Saigon Heat, 77-72.

But the Warriors had since gotten over the hump and strung up victories over Malaysia Dragons, 68-67 and 79-72, and Singapore Slingers, 69-57, to gain a share of top spot with idle Saigon at 3-2.

“We have been giving a good effort,” said Indonesia’s American coach Todd Purves. “Defensively, our rotations are improving. We still have much to improve on the offensive end, though.”

And that’s what San Miguel also hopes to capitalize on as fiery import Gabe Freeman came out firing early to power the Beermen to 100-74 rout of Saigon last week.

Fellow import Brian Williams—who had a double-double of 15 points and 19 rebounds in the opener against the Warriors—has also been a big help along with former PBA stars Asi Taulava and Eric Menk, guard Chris Banchero and reigning MVP Leo Avenido.

“San Miguel is an explosive team and this will be a very tough game,” said Purves. “Our transition defense and rebounding will be key.”

The Warriors boast a similarly solid import tandem in Steve Thomas and Chris Daniels, who are backstopped by former MVP Mario Wuysang, Christian Sitepu and Filipino import Jerick Cañada.

“Single coverage won’t work against Thomas, so we have to be very quick in helping out in defense,” said Austria.

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