December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Streaking Beermen, Gin Kings take on struggling opponents

STREAKING teams San Miguel Beermen and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings take on struggling opponents today in a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup double-header set at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Beermen (3-0), the remaining unbeaten team in the mid-season PBA tournament, stake their unblemished record against the Mahindra Floodbuster (1-5) in the 4:15 p.m. curtain-raiser while the Kings (2-1), winners of their last two games, go up against still winless team NLEX Road Warriors (0-6) in the main game at 7 p.m.

San Miguel enters the contest fresh from its 103-97 conquest of the Star Hotshots on Sunday which continued its strong start to the ongoing conference.

The Beermen relied on a total effort to get the better of the Hotshots with five players scoring in double digits.

Import Charles Rhodes led the way in the San Miguel victory with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Guard Chris Ross had 19 points while Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo finished with 16, 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Despite the good start they are having, Beermen coach Leo Austria said he still believes his team has a lot more to give, particularly Mr. Rhodes, who he said is still finding his way in their system.

“Charles Rhodes is a big help for us. He is playing with a lot of pride which is why he is doing well so far. He’s not asking for the ball but more of complementing his teammates within our system. But I’m confident he can still do more especially when he fully gets our system,” Mr. Austria said after their win over Star.

Looking to stop San Miguel’s roll is Mahindra, which has lost three straight and is tinkering with early elimination.

Reinforcement Keith Wright, taking over from original choice James White, has been averaging 21.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Floodbuster in two games so far.

While they stumbled in their initial foray in the Commissioner’s Cup, the Kings have charged back in their last two games with impressive and convincing victories.

The latest of the Barangay Ginebra wins came at the expense of the Star, 113-98, on April 9. Prior to that, it defeated the GlobalPort Batang Pier by 17 points, 113-96.

Returning import Justin Brownlee is pacing the Kings with averages of 23.7 points, nine rebounds, 5.7 assists, three steals and 2.7 blocks.

Guard LA Tenorio is backstopping him with 16.3 points while Sol Mercado is norming 14 points and six assists per contest.

Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance are the two other Gin Kings averaging double digits in scoring with 13.3 points and 10.7 points, respectively. The two are also combining for 14 rebounds a ball game.

Now in a charge back, Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone said he likes what he is seeing with his team, including the play of their import Brownlee.

“Justin is turning out just as what we expected,” said Mr. Cone of their import, whom they decided to bring back despite being among the smaller imports in the tournament, after leading the team to the Governors’ Cup title last year.

“But we need contributions from the others if we are to continue playing at a high level,” the multitiled coach added.

For NLEX, meanwhile, it is about saving some pride today in a tournament which is proving to be a trying one anew for the team.

Wayne Chism is the top man for NLEX with norms of 28.3 points, 18.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 blocks.

Meanwhile, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ Jeff Chan was named PBA player of the week for the period of April 10 to 16 on the strength of his solid showing in their come-from-behind win over the Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters on Holy Wednesday.

In said game, Mr. Chan tallied 24 points, half of which coming in last six minutes of the contest where the Elasto Painters completed their comeback.