There’s no denying the void left by the absence of six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and former scoring champion Terrence Romeo has done a number on the reigning Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen.
Veteran-laden as they are though, the Beermen are not making any excuses and are targeting their third win in a row when they tangle with the Meralco Bolts at the AUF Sports Arena in Pampanga.
Game time is at 6:45 p.m. following the game between Blackwater Elite and the Magnolia Hotshots at 4 p.m.
San Miguels’s seasoned veterans are expected to carry the burden once again as they aim to continue their resurgence after a disastrous start to the season that saw them lost two straight.
Former MVP Arwind Santos said every game carries a lot of weight given the elimination round’s single round-robin format.
"Dahil one round lang, so importante talaga 'yung bawa't laro, " Santos was quoted on the league’s website. "So natalo kami first two games namin dito, sobrang sama ng laro namin. Ngayon kailangan makabawi na kami."
The veteran forward has been instrumental in the Beermen’s last two wins, averaging 18.5 points and 12 rebounds. Marcio Lassiter, Mo Tautuaa and Alex Cabagnot have also been stellar, leading head coach Leo Austria to heap praises on his battle-tested wards.
"I'm so happy because of the veterans," noted SMB coach Leo Austria. "They've been stepping up in a really big way, but we need to keep consistent performances para makuha namin ang immediate target namin, which is to make the next round."
With San Miguel and Meralco toting identical 3-2 (win-loss) cards, both teams are looking for a win that would keep them in the running for the top eight, which will move on to the quarterfinals following the 11-game eliminations.
"It's a mid-conference game that's very important for both teams. A win keeps you in the top half of the standings," said Meralco head coach Norman Black of this game.
"Despite its injuries, SMB is still a tough out. They have been playing good so we will have to defend them as well to pick up a win," added Black. (JNP)