DEFENDING champion San Miguel Beer seeks the solo leadership as it battles struggling NLEX, as the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup travels to Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday.
The Beermen try to stretch their winning streak to three in their 5 p.m. encounter against the Road Warriors, who dropped their last three matches after winning their opening assignment against Alaska, 99-97, in overtime.
Head Coach Leo Austria’s Beermen are coming off a shaky 94-91 win over lowly Mahindra behind the 28-point performance of reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo.
“That game was a good lesson for us. Everybody is really competitive in this league,” said Austria, who also drew 18 points from Arwind Santos against the Floodbuster.
“We cannot afford to have a game like that, so complacent. We really struggled in that game,” he added.
The Beermen are currently in a three-way logjam for the top spot with GlobalPort and Rain or Shine.
Austria knows he needs consistency from his second unit to ease the burden from his starters. They will be facing an off-form NLEX quintet of new coach Yeng Guiao. The Road Warriors are licking an 85-96 loss to Blackwater, their third straight in the tournament.
Veteran center Asi Taulava and Garvo Lanete sat out the match against the Elite because of injuries, but they are expected to be back on Saturday.
Carlo Lastimosa tallied a team-high 23 points in that loss but was ejected after incurring two technical fouls.