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    Fri, Sep 30
    June Mar Fajardo Meralco vs San Miguel
    The Bolts had June Mar Fajardo and the Bolts' number in the regular season.
    PHOTO: PBA Images

    THE recent success of Meralco over San Miguel in the past few conferences is enough reason for the Beermen not to take the Bolts lightly ahead of their semifinal series in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup.

    San Miguel vs Meralco preview

    The Bolts will be entering the semifinals against the Beermen with a winning record against them. Dating back to the 2017-2018 season, Meralco actually has a 9-4 win-loss record against San Miguel including an 89-86 win in the eliminations last July 17.

    SMB coach Leo Austria is aware of Meralco’s winning record going into their first-ever clash in the semifinals.

    “Parang kumportableng kumportable sila na kalaban kami,” said Austria on the eve of Game One. “’Yung first bubble, twice-to-beat kami, tinalo nila kami dalawang beses although depleted ‘yung line-up namin. We don’t have June Mar (Fajardo), we don’t have Terrence (Romeo), and si Alex (Cabagnot) didn’t play in the first game. We only had two big men, si Mo Tautuaa and Arwind Santos.”

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    “After that, hindi na kami nanalo sa kanila except when Shabazz (Muhammad) was our import. Pero during the quarterfinals, tinalo kami. And then last game, tinalo din nila kami. Parang nagiging komportable sila sa amin,” said Austria.

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    Austria said he made sure that the Beermen are aware of their struggles over the Bolts during the past couple of conferences.

    “I hope na well-motivated sila with the things that happened to us before with them,” said Austria.

    Meralco will enter the semifinals with a lot of confidence after it ousted its regular finals nemesis Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals with a 106-104 Game Three win.

    Austria is not surprised with the way Meralco is performing with their improvement over the years to become one of the title contenders of the league.

    “I think it will be a tough series for us. What I noticed from Meralco is talagang they improved a lot in every aspect of the game. Unang-una, si Newsome, talagang siya ‘yung tumatayong leader ng team. Very mature and magaling mag-facilitate.

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    “Si Maliksi, offensively, tingin ko complete player dahil may lay-up, may saksak, at lalo na ‘yung kanyang three-points. Talagang naka-focus sila lahat. And then lalo na ‘yung core nila kasama diyan si Aaron Black, he improved tremendously.”

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      Unlike in their elimination round contest, San Miguel will now be in full strength after Jericho Cruz, Rodney Brondial, and Robbie Herndon failed to see action. Chris Ross is also back after recovering from a knee injury.

      “After beating Ginebra, I think ang focus nila is to get to the top of the conference which is the championship. But of course, it remains to be seen. This will be a tough test for us and for them. You can’t take them lightly,” said Austria.

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      The Bolts had June Mar Fajardo and the Bolts' number in the regular season.
      PHOTO: PBA Images
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