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    Leo Austria says game versus Meralco the first real test for San Miguel

    Dec 26, 2017

    SAN Miguel Beer gets its first real test in its four-peat bid in the PBA Philippine Cup as it tangles with Meralco on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

    The Beermen opened their title defense on a high note, flexing their muscles in a 104-96 rout of Phoenix on opening night two Sundays ago.

    But SMB coach insisted that their first win was hardly a barometer of how they'll perform throughout the tournament, saying their next few games, starting with the one against the retooled Bolts side at 7 p.m.

    "Hindi pa 'to (Phoenix) ang gauge," Austria said. "We still have to see kung ano ipapakita ng ibang teams."

    "Every team, I know na iba ang mindset nila ngayon," he added. "Nagpalakas sila at ang battle cry nila is to beat San Miguel."

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      That's certainly the primary focus of the Bolts, who have added Niño Canaleta, Jason Ballesteros, and Mac Baracael, as well as Nico Salva to shore up their frontline in the hope of matching up against the Beermen anchored by reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo and the rest of the starting Fab Five.

      The Bolts flashed their potential with a 103-98 win over Blackwater last Friday behind Canaleta's heroics.

      The Beermen, though, are eager to prove that they are still hungry for an unprecedented fourth straight all-Filipino crown especially after the Grand Slam slipped from their hands last season.

      "Alam naman namin yun na every time may pressure, nagkakaroon ng sense of urgency especially yung players dahil gusto pa rin nila makuha yung title," Austria said.

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      Phoenix tries to recover from its opening loss to San Miguel and gift new coach Louie Alas with his first win as it takes the court in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m. against Kia, which is coming off a slim 119-115 defeat at the hands of NLEX last week.

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