San Miguel out to end year with a bang, but Austria warns Meralco a dangerous foe
SMB coach Leo Austria is wary of a Meralco side that is raring to bounce back after two straight losses in games where the Bolts blew big leads. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer wants to end the year with a bang and alone on top.

The reigning champions stake the solo lead in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday when they take on the Meralco Bolts in the main game of a doubleheader at the Astrodome.

The Beermen are coming off a huge win over NLEX in Cagayan de Oro almost two weeks ago that gave them a 4-1 mark and the top spot in the standings of the 12-team field.

But coach Leo Austria stressed this is not the right time for the team to be complacent since the Bolts, along with Globalport and Phoenix which go up against each other in the first game, are also aiming to end the year 2016 on a winning note.

"We expect some battles as each team wants to make a statement before the year ends," Austria said heading to the 7 p.m. match.

San Miguel will have to make do with a hurting lineup.

Big men Yancy de Ocampo and Gabby Espinas are nursing the flu, while Jay-R Reyes is favoring a sore leg.

Austria understands every team are after the Beermen's head, more so the Bolts, who are eyeing to bounce back from two straight losses in which they lost commanding leads in the payoff periods.

The heartbreaking setbacks against Alaska and Phoenix dropped Meralco to a 2-3 record.

"We want to maintain our position on top but Meralco is a dangerous opponent. They're a strong contender, dropping close matches in their recent games. I'm sure they're raring to bounce back," added Austria.

"I told guys don't be too happy with our standings."

Globalport (3-2) is among the teams hoping for San Miguel to lose.

A Batang Pier win over the Fuel Masters coupled by a Beermen loss will forge a four-way tie at the top with TnT Katropa and Rain or Shine, both in second place with identical 4-2 marks.

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But Phoenix (3-3) could prove to be a tough match-up for Globalport especially with the return of JC Intal and Willie Wilson from the injury list.

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