Grand Slam-seeking Beermen on the right track
After disposing of sister team Barangay Ginebra in grand fashion on Sunday, 107-103, San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria declared that a top-four finish in the elimination round is achievable.
“We’re after a top-four finish and it looks achievable now,” said Austria after his third import, Terrence Watson, proved to be a lot better than the unimpressive Tarik Bridgeman.
“He’s a big help. He’s a big factor. And it’s tough for Ginebra because they’re not able to scout our new import,” added the Grand Slam-seeking Austria.
Watson, who had only two practices before Sunday’s match, came through with a game-high 28 points and 17 rebounds, just enough to help his teammates snap Ginebra’s seven-game winning run.
“It was a tough game. They’re a great team. They’re tall, they’re big,” said the 30-year-old Watson of the Gin Kings.
He also admitted that he got scared when June Mar Fajardo went into foul trouble.
With their fifth win against three loses in the elimination round, the Beermen joined TNT KaTropa in fourth place to boost their top four and twice-to-beat incentive bids in the quarterfinals.
San Miguel turned what had been expected to be a nip-and-tuck battle into a one-sided game and even led by as much as 26 points—to the disappointment of the Gin King’s supporters who trooped to Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Dismayed over the Gin Kings’ lethargic performance, coach Tim Cone abandoned his post and yielded to his assistant, Richard Del Rosario, in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Cone refused interviews as he headed for the parking area. He also declined photo opportunities with the fans, which according to a sportwriter was his pahiyang (ritual for good luck).
Despite the loss, the Gin Kings, now sporting a 7-2 win-loss record, are still on target for a top-four finish and even the No. 1 playoff seeding.
They will be up against the Elasto Painters and TNT KaTropa in their last two games in the elimination round.
San Miguel’s last three games are against Kia Picanto, Phoenix and Meralco.