SLOWLY putting its struggles behind, San Miguel goes for a third straight win and climb in the PBA Governors Cup standings as it takes on skidding Star in Sunday’s main game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Beermen coach Leo Austria pointed out the seven-day rest the team had gave his banged-up players enough time to recuperate from various injuries as they brace for a neck-and-neck matchup against the defending champions in the 5:15 p.m. game
“Against Purefoods, alam mo naman every time naglalaban ang San Miguel and Purefoods, all-out ang mga players,” said Austria, whose team currently totes a an 2-2 record after beating Rain or Shine (104-91) and GlobalPort (124-102) in their last two outings.
Top slotman June Mar Fajardo is still nursing an injury on his left plantar fascia, but is expected to play through it against a rugged Star frontline of import Marqus Blakely, Marc Pingris, and Rafi Reavis.
Arwind Santos, on the other hand, is slowly getting his rhythm back after starting the conference with a left shoulder injury he suffered during practice.
“Sa practice nabunggo ni Axel (Doruelo) eh biglang may tumunog. May muscle na nag-tight kaya masakit din, pero mas okay na siya,” said Santos, who is off to a slow start after averaging just 7.5 points and 5.0 rebounds behind a woeful 26.1 percent shooting from the floor.
Star coach Tim Cone meanwhile, considered this time of the season as the most difficult stretch as he admitted his key players are already worn out due to the league’s compact schedule.
“It’s been a tough week for us both physically and emotionally. Then we train in a hot gym, and it’s hard to sustain practice for too long,” said Cone matter-of-factly.
“This is actually the toughest time of the year because the guys are worn out, and when you’re hot, you’re miserable and irritable so I guess, this is a trying time for coaches.”
The multi-titled coach said it doesn’t help any that the Hotshots will be facing a Beermen side who appear to have regained its confidence after winning its last two games by big margins.
“They (Beermen) are coming off 20-point win (against GlobalPort) so they are feeling a lot better about themselves than we are,” said the league’s most successful coach.
“I’d rather have a seven-day break with a big win.”
Cone also expects Blakely to come out with his customary energetic performance after coming off a 10-turnover night in the Hotshots’ 83-81 loss to the Meralco Bolts last Sunday.
“Marqus is still the energy guy of the team but he had 10 turnovers against Meralco and it was a tough game for him,” recalled Cone.
“But I expect him to play great and move forward when we play San Miguel.”