There comes a certain point in a conference when San Miguel Beer just switches everything on and engages a gear no other team in the PBA can.
The Beermen might need to engage that gear at this stage of the Commissioner’s Cup.
“We have a game [Friday], June 26 and 30 and July 5, 10, 13, and 17. I think this game could be a turning point [for us] this conference,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said.
It has to be. The Beermen need to start cramming.
Mired in a 1-3 card, San Miguel Beer has struggled this conference the way it did in the early stages last year, when the Beermen were also coming off an all-Filipino title.
But on the Beermen’s path at is Alaska—and the two squads have been treading quite similar roads so far.
One team that doesn’t look to cram is TNT, which is ahead of the pack and could even pad its 6-1 record when it takes on Columbian in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader that starts at 4:30 p.m.
But even with that impressive record and a do-it-all import in Terrence Jones to boot, Bong Ravena prefers the KaTropa keep their heavy foot on the pedal as they look to inch closer toward No. 1 ranking in the playoffs.
“We’re not going to take them easy,” he said of the 1-4 Dyip, who are just a notch above bottom-dwelling NLEX in the standings. “We have a lot to improve on and we hope to do those in the coming games.”
San Miguel and Alaska are coming off narrow losses and are hard-pressed to get back on the win column. Both are aware of the playoff ramifications of this match.
“It’s gonna be a case of us punching [things] up a little bit,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton of the match against the perennial powerhouse at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
“We have a ton of work to do obviously. They’re really good. I mean that’s proven in the last five years. I’ve tasted that up close and personal,” he added, pointing to the multiple times his team faced and bowed to the Beermen deep in the playoffs and the Finals.
But the Beermen also need to step up if they want to keep their bid of a triple crown alive. Or at least have a strong showing in the midseason conference.
Of the five straight times San Miguel has won the Philippine Cup, the Beermen have followed that up with a Commissioner’s Cup conquest just once, in 2017. It reached the finals only one other time, when it lost to Barangay Ginebra last year.
“I think it will be interesting for us. We should step higher than we played because [the next] game is really important for us,” said Austria after absorbing a narrow 110-107 loss to Ginebra recently.