Leo Austria is no longer unfamiliar with the dangers that come with being a tournament favorite. So on Thursday night, he issued a challenge: Bring it on.
San Miguel Bear used his soup-up roster to clear a double-digit deficit to beat the NLEX, 100-92, and claim a second-straight victory in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
“They always tag us as powerhouses because of the huge talent in our lineup. But we have to live up to the expectations of the crowd, the fans, the management, “said Austria, who said before the start of the season that the Bearmen are on the field to regain a title they have won nine times in franchise history, including five straight from 2014 to 2019.
It is [actually] It’s a good thing we’re under pressure, because everyone wants to move on, “he said.
Seeing their cornerstone Jun Mar Fazardo bound by the enemy, the Bearmans instead turned to CJ Perez, veterans Marcio Lacitar and Chris Ross, and new additions Vic Manuel and Jericho Cruz.
Perez, the two-time scoring champion of the league, is leading with 19 points. Manuel and Cruz scored 13 runs in the third period to help the club advance to the final frame.
Fazardo then joined hands with fellow big man Mo Tautua to send the Road Warriors to a 1-1 record.
“We were very lucky because before this conference, we had two months to deal with this kind of problem – chemistry. A lot of players came from different teams. They knew different systems so they all had to adjust,” he said.
“But you can’t just say things. We had to practice, and we were lucky to have enough time to adjust, “Austria added.
Don Trolano picked up 21 points for the NLX. Calvin Oftana tossed in 16 and finished with three more double figures.
“Before the conference started, we told the boys that we had to make a good start to get a good rhythm,” says Austria. “I think this [victory] It will give confidence to this team. “
No Mikey yet
Meanwhile, Trapang Giga is ready to miss Mickey Williams for the third consecutive contest as contract negotiations continue to balance.
“No. That’s not true, “Chot Reyes told Inquirer when asked about reports circulating on social media that the Filipino-American Guard is already committed to signing a new contract with the party.
Williams, who was integral to TNT’s championship run in the Philippine Cup last season, is negotiating a bigger salary after introducing a special clause in his contract. He helped Tropang Giga to a 10-1 record in the elimination round of that campaign.
A legitimate scorer whose number kept him running in the most valuable player races of last season, Williams was huge for TNT last Thursday when the club lost to perennial league Dormat Blackwater, 85-78.
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