PH Patriots, San Miguel Beermen forge pre-ABL championship clash
The AirAsia Philippine Patriots and newcomer San Miguel Beermen pulled off a sweep of their group assignments Saturday to forge a championship showdown in the To Be Number One Basketball Challenge in Bangkok, Thailand.
With imports Anthony Johnson and Nakiea Miller on the firing end, the Patriots whipped Thailand, 67-54, to earn the right to face the Beermen, the 79-69 winners over the Singapore Slingers in their final group game.
Johnson and Miller starred in a searing second-quarter assault that propelled the Patriots to their second win in as many games in the AirAsia Asean Basketball League preseason tournament.
In his second tour of duty for the Patriots, the 6-foot-6 Johnson, who also topscored in the 79-59 drubbing of the Saigon Heat, stood at the forefront of the attack with 18 points, while Miller was a pillar of strength inside the paint with 12 points and 13 boards.
The Patriots also got a lift from Ardy Larong who finished with 11 points in 11 minutes in the game witnessed by Princess Ubolratana, daughter of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Filipino-American guard Chris Banchero delivered another solid game with 21 points for the Beermen, who followed up their 76-70 conquest of the Indonesia Warriors.
San Miguel import Darlon Johnson contributed 17 points before fouling out with five minutes left, while former Patriots forward Junjun Cabatu tossed in 15 for the Beermen.
“We hope to resolve their height advantage and limit the production of Banchero,” said Patriots coach Glenn Capacio.
The Patriots and Beermen were scheduled to dispute the title last night in a preview of the ABL’s third season kicking off Jan. 14.
The two teams have been installed as favorites in the ABL with the Patriots, co-owned by Tonyboy Cojuangco and Mikee Romero, looking to follow up their triumph in the league’s first season in 2010.
PH PATRIOTS 67—Johnson 18, Miller 12, Larong 11, Ramos 8, Arellano 6, Vergara 6, Fernandez 4, Juntilla 2, Ybanez 0, Wainwright 0, Rodriguez 0.
THAILAND 54—Etame 20, Kuete 18, Apiromvilaichai 6, Kruatiwa 6, Lermalaiporn 2, Klahan 2, Sangthong 0, Kaedum 0.
Quarters: 21-21, 45-29, 58-36, 67-54