SAN Miguel’s standing 16-game winning streak doesn’t mean a thing without an Asean Basketball League (ABL) crown.
Coach Leo Austria and the rest of the Beermen stressed this point two days before the start of their semifinal series against Sports Rev Thailand Slammers at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
“Our 16-game winning streak is not a guarantee that we will be the champion,” said Austria during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Shakey’s Malate. “We will try to refocus ourselves because the playoffs is a different ballgame.”
The Beermen have steamrolled their way into the Final Four by extending the ABL record for the most number of consecutive victories in a season on their way to clinching the top spot in the standings with a 19-3 win-loss slate.
But Asi Taulava agrees with Austria as he shrugged off the Beermen’s four-game sweep of the Slammers in their head-to-head match-up.
“It’s back to zero. It’s a best-of-five right now and we need to prepare ourselves and play San Miguel basketball,” said Taulava.
San Miguel is expected to focus its defense on Slammers import Christien Charles and former Beerman Froilan Baguion.
“Charles is always the top scorer of their team and fortunately, we were able to contain their point guard Froilan. I always believe that the main man of the team is Froilan, then Charles next. We want to minimize their output,” Austria said.
Ever since the Philippine Patriots won the inaugural ABL championship in the 2009-2010 season, no Philippine team has won the crown again.
San Miguel’s top guard Chris Banchero wants to end the losing spell.
“The only thing that means to us right now is a championship,” said Banchero, a heavy favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award.
Banchero is expected to play in the semifinals after suffering a torn tendon in his left quadriceps.
“It’s already healed and I’m ready to go,” he said.
Game Two of the semifinals will be played on Saturday at the Philsports Arena, before the series shifts to Nimibutr Stadium in Bangkok for Games Three and, if necessary, Game Four on May 28 and 30, respectively.
Game Five is on June 3 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.