San Miguel Beer on Friday fashioned out a result similar to its two previous games to continue its unbeaten start under new coach Jorge Gallent in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Now comes the first difficult phase of Gallent’s young tenure starting Sunday against Magnolia.
“It’s gonna be a tough game [against Magnolia],” Gallent said after the Beermen bucked a slow start to produce a 122-102 humbling of Terrafirma at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The 20-year rout of the Dyip, who came into the game just a week removed from an upset victory over the Meralco Bolts, mirrored the margin the Beermen produced in walloping the Phoenix Fuel Masters (114-93) and Blackwater Bossing (105-86).
TNT rose to 3-1 later in the night after a 93-85 nipping of the Hotshots where Roger Pogoy scored 20 points.
But against a Magnolia side known for grind-out encounters, Gallent sees the duel at Smart Araneta Coliseum as an intriguing task if San Miguel can keep up its offense that has produced 114.3 points on average and a defense that yields just 93.7 points a night.
“This [Magnolia game] will test us on Sunday—if our defense and offense are really gonna work,” added Gallent.
Before putting their eyes on the Beermen, the Hotshots came into Friday’s nightcap facing another perennial contender in the TNT Tropang Giga with the goal of bouncing back from their weekend loss to the league-leading Converge FiberXers.
Magnolia is actually the first match of a big stretch of games for San Miguel, with Meralco next on Feb. 9 and Converge, unbeaten at 4-0, on Feb. 11.
Gallent will need to get the same production from import Cameron Clark, who had 31 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, against the Hotshots.
And on an afternoon when June Mar Fajardo took a backseat with a quiet six-point, nine-rebound and six-assist production, local Beermen like CJ Perez, Jericho Cruz and Allyn Bulanadi delivered.
Perez had 20 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, Cruz had nine points, four rebounds and four assists before a second technical foul for taunting Terrafirma import Jordan Williams following Clark’s transition jam led to his ejection late in the third.
Bulanadi again put up impressive numbers with 14 points in 24 minutes off the bench, justifying the steal the Beermen got from NorthPort, which got role player Paul Zamar.
A big second quarter that saw the Beermen outscoring the Dyip, 38-23, led to another blowout while limiting what Williams did, compared to his two games against the FiberXers and the Bolts.
Williams finished with 30 points, but the way the Beermen defended had him shooting just 11-of-26 from the field.
He started the conference with 46 points, but Terrafirma lost to Converge. He had 29 points despite going 9-of-23 in defeating Meralco.
“That’s always gonna happen. We’re not invincible,” Gallent said after San Miguel had to endure a sluggish start before taking control of Terrafirma. “They started strong and we started flat. But the best thing about it is that after three to four minutes, we woke up and brought our San Miguel basketball.”