SAN Miguel Beer asserted its mastery of Singapore on Saturday, scoring an 80-69 victory over the Slingers behind the leadership of its local standouts in the Asean Basketball League at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Beermen swept their five-game head-to-head matchup with the Slingers this season as Chris Banchero and Asi Taulava conspired in a huge third quarter, where the host team took the lead for good after staring at an early deficit.
San Miguel has now won its eighth straight game overall — equaling the feat it pulled off last season — to solidify its hold of the top spot with an 11-3 win-loss card.
The Beermen have actually secured first place even before their game against Singapore as erstwhile leader Indonesia lost to third-running Malaysia, 80-79, in Kuala Lumpur last Friday to drop to second place with a 12-4 mark.
Trying to avoid another blowout loss and a season sweep against their Southeast Asian neighbors, the Slingers came out more prepared than in their previous meetings against the Beermen as they held a five-point cushion at the end of the first quarter.
But with Banchero, a leading MVP candidate, and Taulava, a former PBA star, at the forefront of the attack, the Beermen fought back to knot the count at the half, before taking the advantage in the second half.
San Miguel built leads as many as 16 points, with the last at 76-60 after Hans Thiele’s right-wing jumper with two minutes and 34 seconds to go in the game.
“I told them we shouldn’t be caught off guard,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said. “This game is really important for them (Slingers). It came out na aggressive nga sila. Kami naman, after four games with them, tingin nila kayang-kaya. Yung complacency nandun eh. That’s the thing we wanted to avoid.”
“But I’m happy to see them especially in the second half na nag-step up talaga sila dahil they know the importance of the game,” the Adamson mentor added. “A win against Singapore is just like a win against Indonesia or Malaysia.”
The Slingers remained second to the last in the standings in fifth place after dropping to 5-11.
SMB 80 – Banchero 19, Taulava 15, Thiele 11, Rizada 9, B. Williams 9, Avenido 6, J. Williams 5, Luanzon 2, Acuña 2, Hubalde 2, Fortuna 0, Menk 0
SINGAPORE 69 – Phillip Morrison 28, Jennings 13, Singleton 8, Folkoff 7, Wu 5, Cabatu 4, Lim 4, Oh 0, T. Goh 0, K. Goh 0
Quarterscores: 16-21, 34-34, 57-50, 80-69