After a long game of musical chairs, San Miguel and Indonesia finally found the player combinations that clicked and are now set to do battle for the title in the Asean Basketball League.
Game One of the best-of-three finals is on Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
For SMB coach Bobby Parks, the finals match-up is like “two new teams facing each other” because just like the Warriors, the Beermen tried out several imports before finding the correct formula by acquiring Nick Fazekas and Duke Crews to team up with a local crew led by Fil-Italian Chris Banchero.
“Indonesia is tough. They made the right moves to make the team even more competitive. We haven’t faced some of the players so it’s going to be a challenge,” said Parks, whose team’s last match-up with the Warriors was way back in March 31 in a 71-69 victory in Jakarta.
“It’s going to be a very exciting series. We have two great teams who have good management and coaching staff. This championship series is built upon these qualities,” said Parks in a press conference leading up to the ABL finals series held on Friday at the San Miguel headquarters in Mandaluyong City.
Indonesia Warriors head coach Todd Purves said that his team is the definite underdogs but noted that he also has the tools to match up against the Beermen
“San Miguel is the class of our league. Even though the Philippine Patriots were in first place after the elimination round, I felt that San Miguel was the best team in the league,” Purves said.
Former Philippine Patriots import Steven Thomas and high-flying Evan Brock are reinforcing the Warriors that also include Filipino-American guard Stanley Pringle,last year's league MVP Mario Wuysang and ex-Adamson point guard Jerick Canada.
“From front to back, they are a great team. San Miguel has good imports and a good backcourt. But we also have two good imports and we also have Stanley, Jerick and Mario. It’s going to be a good match-up,” said Purves.
Game One is set at 4 p.m. before the series shifts to the Mahaka Square in Jakarta for the second match on June 23. Game Three, if necessary, is scheduled on June 30 in the Philippines.
The Warriors had a 12-9 win-loss record in the regular season and finished in third place thanks to the late acquisition of Pringle and Brock. The team swept the Philippine Patriots in the semifinals to earn a titular showdown with the Beermen.
“We have been growing. I have no question in my mind that we are improving. Stanley and Even were a big boost for us. We didn’t really have an up-and-down year but we had a better team late in the season,” said Purves.