SAN MIGUEL got off its title aspiration bid in style, beating reigning champion Indonesia, 64-53, Friday night in the opener of the 4th Asean Basketball League at the Mahaka Square in Jakarta.
Import Brian Williams debuted for the Beermen with a double-double of 15 points and 19 rebounds, while Chris Banchero added 14 to carry the team to the rousing win opposite the very same squad that embarrassed them at home in the decisive Game 3 of last year’s Finals.
The Beermen won a sloppy game that saw them shoot 35 percent from the field, while the Warriors were even worse as they converted just 30 percent of their shots.
The visitor converted just three triples and shot 54 percent from the foul line, but outrebounded the home team, 50-36.
“We didn’t play well,” admitted San Miguel rookie coach Leo Austria in the postgame interview. “But it happened that we were lucky because they committed a lot of turnovers.”
“If you saw our execution, it’s very poor. But we have a lot of experienced players,” Austria added.
San Miguel broke away for good by closing the third quarter behind a strong 11-6 run to post a 45-36 lead entering the fourth.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Leo Avenido, who finished the game with 10 points, converted a triple in the fourth to stretch the lead to 48-38 as the Beermen stayed in front for good.
Former PBA MVP Asi Taulava made up for his paltry two-point output by grabbing 10 rebounds, while Eric Menk, also a one-time PBA MVP, had six points in his ABL debut.
Tempers nearly flared between Taulava and Indonesia’s Fil-American player Richard Smith shortly after the game before cooler heads separated the two.
The defending champion Warriors sorely missed the services of explosive Fil-American guard Stanley Pringle, who will miss playing for the next 12 weeks due to an MCL injury.
With Pringle out, only imports Steve Thomas and Chris Daniels scored in double figures for the Warriors with 15 and 10 points respectively.
Jerick Canada added nine for Indonesia.
The Beermen take a 15-day break before facing Saigon Heat on January 26 in Ho Chi Minh City.
San Miguel (64) --Williams 15, Banchero 14, Avenido 10, Rizada 9, Freeman 8, Menk 6, Taulava 2, Luanzon 0, Hubalde 0, Cawaling 0.
Indonesia (53) --Thomas 15, Daniels 1 0, Canada 9, Smith 7, Wuysang 6, Sitepu 3, Prihantono 3, R. Smith 0, Indrajaya 0.
Quarterscores: 16-9, 30-25, 45-36, 64-53.