Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
Unlike in Game 1, San Miguel's bench up with more than just one point in Game 2
Sure, there was no meltdown and no 2-0 deficit to worry about heading into Game 2. Sure, Arwind Santos led a balanced effort from the rest of the San Miguel Beermen as they won Game 2 to tie the best of-7 Philippine Cup Finals series at 1 game apiece. But unlike in their Game 1 embarrassing loss at the hands of the Magnolia Hotshots, the starters of Coach Leo Austria didn't need to carry the whole team anew.
In their 92-77 victory last night, the Beermen didn't need June Mar Fajardo to score 33 points. In fact, the Beermen were able to build a double-digit lead in the first half despite June Mar Fajardo's struggles which can be associated with Magnolia's efforts to make life more miserable for the 4-time MVP. What helped the Beermen in Game 2 which was hugely missing in the series? Bench production.
In Game 1, the whole bench of San Miguel combined for a grand total of 1 point- courtesy of Chris Ross.
That changed quickly come Game 2 when the Beermen's bench scored 20 points. Half of those points came from none other than Brain Heruela.
All of Heruela's points came in the first half when the Beermen started to build a double-digit lead. In 15 minutes of playing as a back-up to Chris Ross who was back into the starting line-up, Heruela went 3 for 3 from the field and made his lone attempt from the three-point line. He was also perfect in his three attempts from the free throw line. Heruela also had an assist and a steal. More importantly, he, alongside Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Billy Mamaril provided the much-needed energy that San Miguel sorely needed from its bench players especially with Fajardo shooting bricks during the first half.
The Beermen will need more from Brian Heruela and company come Game 3 and beyond especially with Chris Ross still not in perfect form. As long as the bench can provide the needed reinforcement, the Beermen's starters can rest a little bit and stay fresh in time for the game's crucial moments.