San Miguel, Alaska clash in Panabo with playoffs no. 1 seed on the line  
After battling each other in an intense Philippine Cup finals, San Miguel coach Leo Austria and Alaska counterpart Alex Compton meet anew in a PBA Governors Cup game with the playoffs no. 1 seed at stake. Jerome Ascano

MARCIO Lassiter looked stress-free as he joined some San Miguel Beer coaching staff in a peaceful buffet breakfast on Saturday morning at the posh Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City where the team is billeted.

The Beermen enjoyed the calm before the storm as they travel north to Panabo, Davao del Norte later in the day when they face rival Alaska in the final PBA Governors’ Cup-Petron Saturday Special offering.

“Hindi sila mukhang stressed,” said a lovely lady having breakfast on another table.

But SMB puts its serious face back on as the streaking Beermen try to disprove the notion the team is peaking early when they take the court at 5 p.m. in the last road game of the season set at the Panabo City Tourism, Sports and Cultural Center.

The Beermen are the league’s hottest team, having won their last eight games to maintain their position atop the 12-team standings with an 8-2 win-loss card.

“Hindi naman sa maaga nag-peak,” SMB star Arwind Santos said. “Maaga lang namin nakuha yung magandang recipe na panlaban ng San Miguel. Binalik lang namin yung dati.”

The Beermen, behind do-it-all import AZ Reid, are definitely regaining the form that made them the Philippine Cup champions after failing to sustain their gains in the Commissioner’s Cup.

“Sabi nga nila, hindi kaya ng isa, dalawa, o tatlo,” Santos said. “Ang kagandahan ng team namin may Marcio, may June Mar Fajardo, at nandito pa kami. Tapos sila (Ronald) Tubid. Wala pa yung iba.”

“Paano pag nagkasabay-sabay pa?” the former league MVP was quick to add. “Lahat naman kami na hindi pa ganung pumuputok, eh gusto pa namin mag-improve pa nang mag-improve para lahat kami, full blast at ready para abutin yung goal namin.”

But SMB coach Leo Austria expressed some concerns.

“Yun ang isang tinitingnan ko (peaking early) dahil baka mamaya yung law of averages mangyari,” he said. “But I keep on addressing them na we should keep on learning, we should keep on improving dahil kailangan ascending yung flight namin dahil ngayon kami ang target eh.”

“I hope yung mga gutom ng players is still with them,” added the soft-spoken mentor. “It’s a challenge to the team.”

How the Beermen respond will be known as they face a fellow surging team in the Aces in a rematch of the all-Filipino conference title series. The winner of the anticipated showdown will claim the top seed in the quarterfinals


Alaska has won its last three games and is just a half-game behind the Beermen.

“It’s important to come in with a playoff mentality from here on out,” Aces import Travis Romeo said. “Seeding is very important and these are the things we’re starting to think about.” 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos