SAN Miguel Beer guns for its first back-to-back wins of the season when the Beermen go up against the Westports Malaysia Dragons in their Asean Basketball League (ABL) game at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Saturday.
The Beermen now carry a 4-3 win loss record for solo second place behind the Indonesian Warriors (6-2). The Malaysia Dragons, who sport a 4-4 mark in a tie with the Singapore Slingers, bested the Beermen, 82-76, with Sammy Monroe and Justin Melton combining for 51 points.
Leo Austria’s wards will be working with a handicap in the 4 p.m. game as the team will be without prolific import Gabe Freeman and veteran big man Erik Menk.
Freeman will serve out a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary/excessive physical contact in the Beermen’s 66-55 win over the Slingers last Sunday.
Menk underwent a nasal bone operation on Friday. In his place, the Beermen will activate Hans Thiele.
Freeman will be sorely missed although he was far from his productive self against Singapore. The former PBA import only had eight points on 3-of-10 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.
“We will miss Gabe’s energy, not to mention his production. We have to make do with what we have and rely on Matt (Rogers) and the rest of the locals to carry us through,” Austria said.
Rogers, a stand-in for the injured Brian Williams, has yet to fully assert himself although he contributed eight points in his first outing. The Beermen benefited from the production of the locals led by Chris Banchero who had 16 points, five assists and four steals followed by Asi Taulava’s 10 points and 13 rebounds.
“Consistency remains our main concern, but it is a good thing that we are very much in contention with four wins this early in the tournament. We have more than enough time to pull our acts together,” he added.