Beermen trip Heat, notch 12th straight win
SAN MIGUEL Beer withstood a fiery finish by the Saigon Heat to keep its sizzling streak going in the Asean Basketball League with a 71-69 victory yesterday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Asi Taulava muscled his way inside the paint and scored nine of his 18 points in the pivotal period as the Beermen notched their 12th consecutive win with four games left before the playoffs.
Taulava’s short jumper pushed the Beermen ahead, 68-63, but consecutive threes by David Palmer and Norman Gonzales silenced the pro-San Miguel crowd and rattled the Beermen with less than a minute left.
Michael Brian Williams finally gave the Beermen a two-point edge with time winding down before the Heat missed the chance to send the roller-coaster match into overtime as Chris Sumalinog missed his desperation attempt.
Palmer finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds while Justin Howard added 19 and 12 for the Heat, who absorbed their 13th straight defeat and 14th overall in 17 games.
“My players were complacent because of the win streak. Bad habits showed up,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria. “We can’t play like this in the playoffs.”
The Beermen are now 15-3 but the acid test will come next week when they tackle the Indonesia Warriors (13-4).
“I just keep pushing myself,” said Taulava. “They say that when you’re 40, it’s time to hang up your sneakers, I’m not ready yet.”
SMB 71—B. Williams 19, Taulava 18, J. Williams 8, Acuña 7, Avenido 6, Hubalde 4, Cawaling 3, Fortuna 2, Thiele 2, Rizada 2, Menk 0.
SAIGON 69—Palmer 24, Howard 19, Reyes 16, Sumalinog 4, Ngo 3, Gonzales 3.
Quarters: 17-19, 36-29, 57-53, 71-69
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