San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria is not really thinking of the Grand Slam this early, but he has more or less plotted the path that the Beermen should take to get a shot at that.
“We should be in the top four [after the elimination round],” Austria said after the Beermen—still fatigued after a tournament overseas—played just well enough to rip Phoenix Pulse, 130-119, to get their PBA Governors’ Cup bid off to a roaring start on Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Every game is important,” said Austria after getting 42 points from import Dez Wells, 23 from Alex Cabagnot and a combined 35 from frontliners June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos.
The Beermen—to Austria’s surprise—played with a lot of energy, dropping 70 points on the Fuel Masters in the first half and 105 after three periods that made a 25-point fourth quarter look pedestrian.
It was the second straight loss for the Fuel Masters, who got 41 points from Eugene Phelps and 18 from Matthew Wright. Phoenix was still without suspended forward Calvin Abueva.
Austria was also able to heave a huge sigh of relief, their debut here being a lot different from the ones they have had in the past conferences.
“Finally, we have one good start after a championship,” he said. “The [stint in the] Terrific 12 [in Macau] helped us a lot—with bonding and experience [playing as a team]. I’m really surprised that they had a lot of energy despite our hectic schedule.”
Wells had 30 points after three quarters and didn’t look like he needed to pour in more in the fourth as the Beermen led, 105-83. But the Fuel Masters made a serious run, which Wells nipped almost single-handedly.
“I can’t say anything more,” Austria said, when asked to comment on Wells’ first PBA game. “The way he played in Macau, I know he can do the same thing here.”
TNT, which San Miguel beat in six games in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, also got off to a strong start by thumping Blackwater, 135-107, in the first game.
The KaTropa also unveiled a gem of an import in KJ McDaniels, who tossed in 41, as they gird up for a chance to take on the Beermen again later, possibly in the Finals, and deny San Miguel that Triple Crown.
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