THE defending PBA Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen go for their fourth win in a row when they take on the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in the 6:45 p.m. main game on Friday at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Pampanga.
Struggled early in the tournament “bubble” of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the now-streaking Beermen (4-2) seek to sustain their ongoing winning form and stay among the top teams.
San Miguel has won their last three assignments, the most recent over the Meralco Bolts, 89-82, on Wednesday.
It was a continuation of a turnaround off back-to-back losses prior.
Big man Mo Tautuaa stepped up anew for the Beermen, leading the charge with 23 points.
Thrust to man the paint for San Miguel in the absence of main man June Mar Fajardo, who is still rehabbing from injury, Mr. Tautuaa has been stepping up for the team to the delight of his coaches and teammates.
Also doing it for the Beermen, who are also without explosive guard Terrence Romeo (injured shoulder), is their collective experience.
“We banked on the experience of the players… They know it’s winning time and they know how to win,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria, whose wards were trailing Meralco entering the fourth quarter of their game.
Also stepping up for San Miguel in the victory over the Bolts was veteran Arwind Santos, who had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in 41 minutes of play.
Alex Cabagnot had 13 points while Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter had 12 each in the win.
Looking to derail the streak of the Beermen is Barangay Ginebra (4-2), which has lost two in a row after opening its campaign with four straight victories.
The Kings’ last defeat came at the hands of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 85-82, in overtime on Oct. 27.
Barangay Ginebra just could not finish the Elasto Painters in said game, despite numerous chances to do so down the stretch.
Scottie Thompson and Stanley Pringle led the Kings in their game against ROS with 21 and 20 points, respectively.
Despite their current slide, Kings coach Tim Cone said it is not yet time to panic because in each of their losses they were up against solid teams and were in the game.
He said they need to do a better job closing out matches so as to get back on the winning track.
Also playing on Friday are the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok (2-4) and the Northport Batang Pier (1-4) at 4 p.m. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo