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    Fortuna thrust into spotlight as Banchero injury worse than initially thought

    Apr 24, 2013
    Former UST playmaker Jeric Fortuna gets his chance to shine for ABL side San Miguel Beer. Jerome Ascano

    SAN Miguel will have to rely heavily on Jeric Fortuna and Paulo Hubalde in the final stretch of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) regular season after news came in that starting point guard Chris Banchero's injury was worse than initially thought.

    Fortuna, a former starter with University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP, and the journeyman Hubalde will take charge beginning with Wednesday night’s clash with the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers in the Asean Basketball League at the Nimibutr Stadium in Bangkok.

    Banchero was only expected to sit out two weeks at the most but after a thorough check-up, doctors said he has suffered a tendon tear in his left quadriceps and will have to sit out two to three weeks until the final stretch of the regular season.

    That leaves the playmaking chores in the hands of Fortuna and Hubalde as the Beermen try to put a lock on the top seeding entering the playoffs. The duo's first test comes in the game against the Slammers, where SMB will be going for an 11th successive victory.

    “We will miss Banchero’s scoring, playmaking skills and leadership,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “We need our guards to step up not only starting in this game but in the coming weeks.”

    The Beermen are currently on top of the team standings with a 13-3 record but are only one game ahead of defending champions Indonesia Warriors (12-4).

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    But Austria expressed confidence that Fortuna, who jumped straight to the ABL after a brief stint in the D-League, and Hubalde, an ex-PBA cager, will step up in Banchero’s absence.

    “Paulo (Hubalde) and Jeric (Fortuna) are experienced players. I am confident that they can provide leadership and help us execute the system both on offense and defense,” said Austria.

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    Former UST playmaker Jeric Fortuna gets his chance to shine for ABL side San Miguel Beer. Jerome Ascano
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