(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
SMB looked like a team that can't be stopped by a Phenom. Alone
Having the best all-local starting five has its perks for the San Miguel Beermen. After 3 games into the new season, they have already converted those games into 3 wins with the last one being against the Talk N Text KaTropa where they needed to bleed for that win before hanging on for an 88-76 victory. And that game also proved that the Beermen are more than just about their super starting unit which is led by 4-time MVP, June Mar Fajardo.
Against the KaTropa, Brian Heruela and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, a former TNT player, provided the defensive intensity that held the ground for San Miguel before stars Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos and sharpshooter, Marcio Lassiter all returned to the floor and delivered the finishing blows. Rosser had 8 points while Heruela had 5 points- both came off the bench for Coach Leo Austria.
If Leo Austria can lean on his bench players the same way he can lean on his starters, then it's already a big problem for the NLEX Road Warriors as they happened to be the next team who will try to end the Berman's winning streak.
To begin with, no one among Yeng Guiao's boys can actually match-up defensively against the Kraken, Fajardo. Sure, the Road Warriors got Asi Taulava who has been as dominant as Fajardo back in his prime years but Taulava is among the oldest players to hit the court in the history of the league so Yeng Guiao can't risk letting his big man getting eaten by Fajardo.
Another reason why Yeng Guiao will have a hard time working on his strategies against San Miguel is the fact that his guards will have to defend the dynamic duo of Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross, two of the league's best pick-and-roll guards. Sure, Guiao can send his own dynamic duo of Kevin Alas and Kiefer Ravena to match-against the backcourt duo of San Miguel but we all know that even if Kiefer Ravena goes supernova, it's not enough. Not against a team like the Beermen.
One thing is certain for now: tonight's main event between the Beermen and the Road Warriors will be a must-see game because we can expect a high-scoring game from two high-scoring teams who have explosive scorers left and right.
Question: Can NLEX become the first team to beat San Miguel this season?
Why? The Beermen got 5 stars on their starting 5 and a bunch of reliable players- and a good system that has been installed by a winning coach.