Aug 09, 2022

Beermen going for 3-1 lead, Bolts defiant

BACK on the driver's seat following their 96-91 Game 3 triumph, the San Miguel Beermen go for a follow-up and the pivotal 3-1 series lead versus the Meralco Bolts in chase of a return stint in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.

Game 3 is at 3 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen are banking heavily on their post players, with coach Leo Austria saying June Mar Fajardo and his other "bigs" are their big advantage that can pound and pummel the Bolts.

Fajardo did lead the way in their wins in Games 1 and 3, though, biding his time, playing decoy in the early goings before asserting himself at winning time.

Gunners CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, Jericho Cruz have been helping out by opening up Meralco's defense with their outside shooting.

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And that's how lethal the Beermen have been in their dominant ride while in the hunt for a shot at reclaiming the crown in the league's premier conference.

Facing this monster of an opponent, the Bolts, however, are not to back down, though, now in a 2-1 hole in the race-to-four-games affair.

Meralco coach Norman Black is not losing faith, remaining confident they can hold their ground against the Beermen with what they have in their camp.

Black is soldiering on with his troops, believing they can battle with their own talent toughened up by their desire and determination to push their breakthrough run.

The veteran coach also draws optimism from their solid, intact lineup in this stage of the tourney.

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"We didn't have any injuries (after the third game) so we'll be back," said Black. "It's not over yet. It's just three games; it's a best-of-seven series so as long as we don't have any injuries to key players, we'll be ready to play Game 4."

With their own outside artillery, and post players in Raymond Almazan, Kyle Pascual, Toto Jose and Cliff Hodge, Black believes "We can compete with anybody, including San Miguel."

They suffered a tremendous beatdown in the series opener, 121-97, but worked on a 99-88 fightback in the next game.

Meralco skipper Chris Newsome insists they're facing adversity head on, and they're determined to rise to the challenge to reach the all-Filipino finals. (SB)