BRIAN Heruela supplied what was obviously the missing link for San Miguel.
The back-up guard scored 10 points to give the Beermen a much-needed from the bench in a 92-77 whipping of Magnolia that tied the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at one-game apiece on Palm Sunday.
Heruela’s output all came in the first half, including seven in the second period when the defending champions put some distance between them and the Hotshots on the way to the blowout win.
The 28-year-old product of University of Cebu went 3-of-3 both from the field and from the foul line.
Magnolia's bench still outscored their SMB counterparts, 24-20, although the gap was not as huge as the 47-1 advantage the Hotshots enjoyed in their 105-103 comeback win in Game 1.
Heruela describes his offensive production as just a ‘bonus for me and the team.'
“Any time coach tries to put me out there, I just try to do my best and help in whatever way I can for my team,” said the fourth-year guard from Cebu. “I’m just glad things went our way.”
Heruela's explosion couldn’t have come at a better time for the Beermen especially with starting guard Chris Ross obviously not playing 100 percent due to a strained right thigh.
With Ross favoring the injury, San Miguel’s backcourt has come under fire from Magnolia’s pesky trio of Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, and Paul Lee.
Heruela welcomed the challenge of going up against the Hotshots’ guards.
“Their intensity is really high and we’re just trying to match that or surpass their intensity and bring a lot of effort and energy for the team,” he said.
Game 3 won’t be played until a week from now. And with both teams recharged, Heruela expects the level of play to go up when the series resumes on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“This is the championship. Any team is not just gonna bow down to any one. It’s gonna compete and battle,” said Heruela.