ALEX Cabagnot refused to read too much into San Miguel Beer’s 96-88 win over Star on opening night in a result seen by many as affirmation of the Beermen’s status as the team to beat in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The SMB star playmaker is well aware that the defending champion Beermen have to go through countless more battles not just in their all-Filipino conference title defense, but as well as in the import-spiced tournaments where they also seek to sustain their winning tradition.
“It’s a long season,” Cabagnot said after the game. “It’s gonna span until next October so we will take our time.”
Still, it was a notable result for the Beermen, who were often incomplete in training in the offseason owing to injuries and off-court commitments.
“We really haven't been practicing as a whole because I was gone for a wedding, guys were hurt and I was hurt when I came back,” Cabagnot disclosed.
The man they call 'Captain Crunch,' though, was healthy enough to live up to his moniker by conspiring with June Mar Fajardo down the stretch to turn around a game where the Beermen stared at a nine-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.
“I’m glad we pulled it off,” Cabagnot, who finished with 22 points and eight assists, said. “June Mar played big as always, pulling rebounds and and-ones, and getting stops. We got the right stops at the right time, so good for us.”
The Beermen, however, didn’t have to go through all that trouble if they had avoided falling complacent – their usual weakness – in the third quarter.
“It’s something we have to go and fix and I’m glad we fixed it,” Cabagnot said.