But between the Gin Kings and the Bolts, San Miguel Beer team manager Gee Abanilla believes the Beermen will be in for a tough match up.
“You’ve seen the level of play for both teams has gone up three notches higher and you saw how highly-physical Game 2 was,” said Abanilla. “Coach Tim Cone was right in saying that it was a grown man’s game.”
Things are going to be a lot physical when the tournament reaches the Final Four and over the past week, the Beermen spent their time working on their game and preparing for the tough grind ahead.
But the Beermen like their chances.
In the Philippine Cup last season, the Beermen went a win away from returning to the championship round, but they lost to eventual champion TNT Tropang Giga, who are currently the other early semifinalist in the ongoing tournament where they will face the winner of the Magnolia Timplados Hotshots-NLEX Road Warriors tussle.
Abanilla sees a much-improved San Miguel squad this season — and for a better reason.
“That’s because of the inspired performance being shown by June Mar Fajardo. He came out in tip-top shape, spent more hours in the gym and has been playing so well this season,” said Abanilla.
The six-time Most Valuable Player has averaged 17.9 points on a 63.4 percent shooting from the field. He is also the tournament’s best rebounder, averaging 13.3 rebounds per game, while also tallying 1.5 blocks per outing.
It’s no secret that he is currently the frontrunner for the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award.
For Abanilla, Fajardo is not only the best player in the league, but he is also the PBA’s best ambassador.
His idea of creating charity work for every point to raise funds for his chosen beneficiary, had somehow motivated himself even more.
Every point is equivalent to P200 while a three-point basket is worth P1,000 for the charity group he had chosen. If ever the Beermen reach the finals, Fajardo is set to give an additional P100,000.
“That’s what he promised his mom,” added Abanilla. “I’ve been with June Mar since 2012, and I don’t really see any mean bone in his body. He didn’t change at all in his attitude.”
But San Miguel is more than just Fajardo’s team as five other players had been averaging in double figures for the squad.
CJ Perez 17.45 points, 7.64 rebounds, 5.91 assists and 2.55 steals per game and has also put himself in the running for the BPC derby.
Jericho Cruz has elevated his game this season and produced 16.88 points, three rebounds and 3.75 assists per game while Marcio Lassiter has remained a key contributor, averaging 12.09 points, 3.91 rebounds and 2.64 assists per game.
Mo Tautuaa has been producing 11 points, five rebounds and two assists per game while Vic Manuel, who just returned from a calf injury, has averaged 10.20 points, 2.20 rebounds per outing.
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