SAN Miguel Beer is playing steadier after a rollercoaster start to the season and the Beermen believe their five-game win streak is the product of a vastly improved defense.
The Beermen have held opponents below 60 points four times in those five games and, as a result, have climbed to second place in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) standings with an 8-3 win-loss record just behind the Indonesia Warriors' 9-3 mark.
“Good defense is the key to a good offense. That has been the key for us in breaking the win-loss pattern and that will be the key to winning more games,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria after an 80-55 win over the Saigon Heat (3-7) on Sunday to cap the three-day ABL Hoopfest in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
“The focus might have been the change of imports in the past few games, but if you look closely, it is mainly the locals embracing the defensive system I was trying to teach them,” said Austria.
The arrival of Justin Williams has completed a formidable frontline for the Beermen. In the Saigon game, the reigning ABL slam dunk champion combined with Brian Williams (6’10”) and Asi Taulava (6’9”) for seven blocks. Against the Slingers, Justine Williams accounted for all of the team’s nine blocks.
“The team has been plugging holes in its defense and having Justin is timely because he is very defensive-minded. In the paint, he will actually go for every shot,” Austria said.
The Beermen also had 10 steals against the Slingers (four and three for JR Cawaling and Brian Williams, respectively). In the Heat game, Williams and Rizada got six of the team’s eight steals.
The team had split its first six matches but turned a corner with a 55-66 win over Singapore on February 24. The Beermen repeated over the Singapore Slingers, 73-53, also at the Tan Bihn Stadium, on Friday.
The Beermen eye their sixth straight win when they face the Slingers again on March 24 in Singapore.