COMING off a two-week break, the San Miguel Beermen try to stretch their winning run to seven games against Jobstreet.com Singapore in the Asean Basketball League at 4 p.m. today at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
“It’s nice to say that we are the best team in the league, but we want to be the best team [in the finals series] by June,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria as he reacted to a recent remark by Todd Purves, mentor of the defending champion Indonesia Warriors.
“I’ve had my doubts before when we were struggling early in the season, but I think we have gotten into the groove with the winning streak. The aim is to sustain it.”
When San Miguel’s star guard Chris Banchero said the streaking Beermen are the best team at the moment, Purves responded by saying that “the big games aren’t played until June.”
“You can infer whatever you like at this point,” said Purves in an interview. “Make no mistake about it. They were the best team in the league this time last year.”
The Beermen did look invincible at this stage last year but the Warriors shocked them in the title series to claim the championship.
Despite the remark, the Beermen remained focused on another big win over the Slingers.
Banchero leads the Beermen with averages of 17.3 points and 3.9 assists, but Austria noted that the Beermen’s solid defense was a key factor in their 9-3 record, behind the Warriors’ 11-3 card.
“We will go very far if we continue to put emphasis on defense,” said Austria, who is also leaning on big men Asi Taulava, Brian Williams and Justin Williams.
The Slingers (5-9) will rely on Rashad Jones-Jennings, Wong Wei Long, Philip Morrison and Filipino import Junjun Cabatu.
“We are going to try to win every game here on,” said Jones-Jennings after shooting a career-high 37 points in the Slingers’ recent 91-77 rout of Saigon Heat.