Local crew gives SMB key edge
There’s no doubt that defending champion San Miguel Beer was one of the pre-PBA Governors’ Cup favorites because of Arizona Reid.
After a tournament-ending foot injury hit the dreadlocked former best import, the Beermen are looking even mightier than ever with their locals stepping up, no offense to Elijah Millsap—who has been called in to help San Miguel to a successful defense.
“The good thing about our team is that we have local players who can step up,” former MVP Arwind Santos said in Filipino as the second-seeded Beermen exhaust the first of two chances for a Final Four ticket against No. 7 NLEX at 4:15 p.m. today at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Of course, it’s a given that the import should always deliver,” Santos, the MVP three seasons ago, added. “(But) coach Leo (Austria) has always reminded us of that, to not depend too much on our import. That we can win without an import.”
Millsap is actually the third reinforcement for the Beermen here after management called on Mike Singletary first after Reid got hobbled by that foot injury and was forced to go home.
But before Singletary could arrive, the Beermen clipped Alaska playing all-Filipino late in the eliminations, proof of Austria’s claims.
And while the Beermen have shown that they can do it with or without an import, there’s no question that Henry Walker will be the focal point of the Road Warriors’ game on both ends as NLEX tries to win the first of two chances to be able to make it to the semifinals.
“We know that this will be a tough series against NLEX because of Henry Walker. He’s great,” Santos went on. “This is where we need to play together on defense to be able to contain Walker.”
For NLEX, it must also get the best out of Asi Taulava to be able to somehow control Fajardo inside. But even then, the Road Warriors will still have to factor in the contributions that Millsap can make with the import agreeing to come over again to complete an unfinished business.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra also shoots for that one win needed to march on, tangling with Alaska in the 7 p.m. main game.