Beermen battle Westports Malaysia five in KL

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San Miguel Beer tries to win back-to-back games when it takes on Westports Malaysia Saturday in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) at Maba Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

Gametime is 3 p.m. with the visiting Beermen hoping to grab solo second with a fourth victory in six games.

“It has been a seesaw season for us, so we need to play more consistently,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “There will always be off nights for every player, but what’s important is for everyone in the team to rise to the challenge and contribute in any way they can.”

Three days ago, it was Chris Banchero’s turn to step up as the Filipino-Italian guard knocked in all of San Miguel’s last 14 points in the final five minutes to tow the Beermen past Chang Thailand, 77-73, in a road game in Bangkok.

Banchero finished with 26 points and import Gabe Freeman added 20 points, 13 rebounds, two steals and as many blocks.

Another road victory for the Beermen will push them closer behind defending champion and leader Indonesia Warriors, who are at 5-2.

Malaysia’s Filipino coach Ariel Vanguardia, though, expects his Warriors to halt a four-game skid following a 67-68 loss to Singapore Slingers last week.

“We need to find a way to come up with those rebounds and (gather) loose balls,” said Vanguardia.

Former PBA reinforcement Sam Monroe and Filipino import Patrick Cabahug will lead the Warriors along with Moala Tautuaa, Shee Fai Loh and the Fil-Am duo of Justin Melton and Mark Jeffries.

Asi Taulava, who had 11 points and five boards in his last outing, has also been providing key numbers for the Beermen along with Eric Menk, Leo Avenido and Brian Williams.

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