SECOND seed San Miguel Beer goes for a quick knockout when it takes on seventh-ranked Air21 in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen earned the No. 2 spot after finishing the eliminations with a 7-2 win-loss record behind unbeaten league-leader Talk ’N Text (9-0).
That gave San Miguel the advantage of needing to win just once against Air21 to move up to the semifinals, though coach Biboy Ravanes has warned his team against complacency in the playoffs.
“Playing Air21 can be deceiving. Pero kung titingnan mo may sentro sila, at malakas din ang backcourt nila kaya kailangan madala na namin yung playoff intensity against Air21,” Ravanes said ahead of their 5:45 p.m. match against the Express.
The Express were in control early in their elimination-round match against the Beermen, dictating the tempo for three quarters before collapsing in the end, 85-93.
The Beermen slowly chewed on the Express’ big lead behind their tenacious defense and timely offense from reigning MVP Arwind Santos as well as Marcio Lassiter to complete their successful fightback.
Ravanes said they have made the necessary adjustments to ensure that their poor start won’t happen again in the playoffs.
“I think sa laban naming ito, kung sino ang makaka-dictate ng tempo, yun ang mananalo. So kami, kailangan naming ma-dictate yung tempo,” he added.
On the other hand, Air21’s ageless center Asi Taulava said the Express will only have to follow the simple process of sticking to coach Franz Pumaren’s game plan to force a winner-take-all match against the Beermen.
“Just stick to Coach Franz’s game plan, make the extra pass. We all need to stick to our roles and play team basketball,” the 6-9 Taulava said.
The 41-year-old Taulava scored nine points and grabbed 14 rebounds against San Miguel last week, although he’s expected to have his hands full once more containing the Beermen’s vastly improved slotman June Mar Fajardo.