By Jerome Lagunzad
DUBAI — It's too early to tell, but San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria is pretty much convinced prolific import Dez Wells is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Beermen's grand slam aspirations in the PBA Governors Cup.
“It seems to me that Dez is really fitted to the team,” Austria said after the former Maryland Terrapin standout took over down the stretch and helped SMB hold off upstart NLEX, 98-94, on Friday night at the grand Coca-Cola Arena.
The 6-foot-2 Wells scored 22 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, highlighted by a gutsy drive over Road Warriors lanky big man Poy Erram that put the Beermen up for good, 95-94, with 23.2 seconds to play, much to the delight of the relatively pro-SMB crowd of close to 6,000.
Wells, a former high school teammate of Washington Wizards All-Star guard John Wall, added 14 rebounds, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal as San Miguel Beer racked up its third straight win and tied archrival TNT KaTropa on top with similar 3-0 records.
Even NLEX tactician Yeng Guaio readily acknowledged the difference that Wells provided for SMB, notably on the offensive end.
“Medyo malaking setback 'yung diperensiya sa import scoring. Their import scored 32 points and ours (Ola Ashaolu) only 11,” he lamented.
More than Wells’ scoring prowess, Austria is pleased to see how the Raleigh, North Carolina native has fit in with the super-talented Beermen local unit, led by reigning five-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo.
“He can create his own shot. He can slash and can even score from the perimeter. But what I like the most about him is that he’s improving the intelligence of his teammates,” gushed Austria.
“Match-up wise, it’s hard to cover Dez, because hindi siya maliit para mapostehan at mabilis rin siya kaya hindi pwedeng malaki ang itapat sa kanya. That’s why down the stretch, hinanap talaga namin siya. And we’re just lucky he delivered.”