Carrying the fight
MACAU—Already the best this season back home in the PBA, San Miguel Beer tries to line itself up as one of the truly elite teams in Asia Thursday when the Beermen shoot for a Final Four seat in the East Asia League Terrific 12 tournament at Tap Seac Multisports Pavilion here.
And out to deny the Beermen that win will be the defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings of Japan, the four-time BJ League champions listed as one of the teams to beat in this tournament that has drawn participation of the best club teams around the region.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. with the Beermen needing no less than a win to avoid any complications in the quotient system.
San Miguel, even without reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and gunslinger Marcio Lassiter, scored a 90-76 ripping of the Shezhen Aviators on opening day Wednesday to set the pace in Group B and take the fight for the three PBA teams taking part.
The Golden Kings were still playing the Aviators at press time.
Blackwater bowed out of contention after taking a second straight lopsided defeat Wednesday afternoon, a 109-69 walloping courtesy of the Chiba Jets, which prized rookie Bobby Ray Parks missed for the Elite.
Dezmine Wells, on whose shoulders rest the Beermen’s quest to complete a second Grand Slam when the Governors’ Cup unfolds Friday, exploded for 29 points, while Terrence Romeo finished with 17, including back-to-back three-pointers late in the game that took the fight out of the Aviators.
Alex Cabagnot also did not play for San Miguel because of the flu.
Chris Ross plugged that hole at the point effectively, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals. And the hard-nosed guard is looking forward to playing the highly touted Japanese squad.
“We’re looking forward to what the rest of the tournament has for us,” Ross said.
The rousing win by San Miguel somehow made up for the losses absorbed by Blackwater Elite and the TnT Katropa in their respective group.
The Elite, playing without starters Mike Digregorio (flu) and Parks (Achilles injury), along with big man Rabeh Al-Hussaini, first fell to the Seoul SK Knights in Group A action, 93-77.
The KaTropa, meanwhile, came up short against former NBA player Lance Stephenson and the Liaoning Flying Leopards, 96-91, in Group D.
TNT was also without Gilas mainstay Troy Rosario and Brian Heruela and Don Trollano.
The KaTropa will be up against Niigata Albirex Basketball.
Only the top team in each group will advance to the crossover semis, with the two winning sides at the end of the Final Four disputing the championship and the $150,000 prize money.
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