SAN MIGUEL coach Leo Austria sees the entry of Justin Williams as a big edge for the Beermen going to their match-up against the Singapore Slingers on Friday in the Asean Basketball League at the Tan Binh Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Beermen are looking to extend their longest winning streak of the season - four straight victories – entering the 4:30 p.m. encounter (5:30 p.m. Manila time) with the Slingers that kicks off the first ever ABL Hoop Fest event.
The Hoop Fest is a three-day event showcasing a skills challenge like the slam dunk and three-point shootout on Saturday as well as games involving all six participating teams on Friday and Sunday which will count in the overall team standings.
The 6-foot-10 Williams, who took over the spot vacated by the injured Gabe Freeman following a brief stint with Globalport in the PBA, will be a big boost for the Beermen (6-3), who are trying to close their gap with defending champion Indonesia Warriors (7-3).
The Beermen could actually surpass the Warriors on top should the reigning champions lose to the Chang Thailand Slammers in the first game of Friday’s tripleheader starting at 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Manila time).
Austria is already looking forward to the impact Williams will be bringing to the team not only in its game against the Slingers and the Saigon Heat on Sunday, but also in future outings as Freeman will be out for another two weeks due to a strained MCL (media collateral ligament).
“We are quite fortunate to get Williams in time for our two straight games against Singapore and Saigon this weekend,” said Austria.
Williams showed he can be a force down low as he tallied 13.4 points, 18 rebounds, and 4.57 blocks in seven games with the Batang Pier in the PBA Commissioners Cup. The numbers however, were not enough to secure his job as the import was later replaced by Walter Sharpe.
“Justine will be a big help to Asi Taulava and Brian Williams when we face the bigger teams in the tournament,” said Austria.
In the third game, the Westports Malaysia Dragons face the Saigon Heat at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. Manila time) to be shown live on FOX Sports.