ASI Taulava scored a game-high 22 points and Val Acuna had 13 off the bench as San Miguel defeated defending champion Indonesia, 75-70, Friday night to draw first blood in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) Finals at the jampacked Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Taulava, the newly-named season MVP, put the finishing touches to the Beermen’s hard-earned win by hitting the team’s final six shots.
Acuna, meanwhile, hit 3-of-4 from behind-the-arc in leading the Beermen’s charge in the second half for a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Beermen go for a fitting follow-up to the win as they seek a 2-0 Finals lead when Game 2 is played Sunday at the same Pasig venue starting at 3 p.m.
“Coach (Todd) Purves and I told the media that this game will be close and that’s what happened,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “We put our premium on defense. It was hard to get an open shot but fortunately, our team is focused.”
Chris Banchero had 15 points, while Leo Avenido added 12 including two triples for the Beermen, who trailed by as much as eight points early in the game.
Acuna converted a triple that made it a 64-56 lead in the fourth period. He added another deuce in the 6:50 mark to push San Miguel’s lead to 69-60.
The Warriors refused to yield as Steven Thomas converted two free throws to cut the deficit to 66-69 before Taulava took over entering the homestretch.
San Miguel had a slow start as Indonesia led, 17-9. The Warriors were still on top, 36-29, but the Beermen went on a 9-2 to end the second period and tied the game at 38-38 at the half.
Thomas led the Warriors with 20 points, while Stanley Pringle had 15 but had a relatively off-night shooting behind a 7-of-18 clip from the field.
“Any given time, he (Pringle) will score. But tonight, we did a good job containing him. We can’t stop him on a single coverage. But the defense worked on him,” said Austria.
San Miguel (75) – Taulava 22, Banchero 15, Acuna 13, Avenido 12, J. Williams 6, Fortuna 5, B. Williams , Hubalde 0, Cawaling 0.
Indonesia (70) – Thomas 20, Pringle 15, Daniels 14, Wuysang 13, Canada 4, Sitepu 2, Smith 2.
Quarterscores: 18-23; 38-38; 59-55; 75-70.