Mar 30, 2024

Beermen gun for third straight win versus Fuel Masters

DEFENDING champion San Miguel Beer and Phoenix re-open hostilities in the PBA Philippine Cup on Easter Sunday with the Beermen aiming to stay hot and in front and the Fuel Masters plotting their "rise from the ashes."

Gametime for the first gig since the pro league went on a two-week break for the hugely-successful All Star Weekend in Bacolod and the Holy Week commemoration is at 3 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Showing no championship hangover and rust from coming off their Commissioner's Cup conquest, the Beermen have launched their quest for back-to-back All Filipino crowns and a sweep of two conferences of Season 48 with a 109-97 romp over Rain or Shine and a 91-89 escape act over TNT.

On the other hand, the Fuel Masters have struggled after their semifinal run in the previous tournament, winning only once in four matches. For Phoenix, the 85-100 beating at the hands of Rain or Shine in its last outing before halt in action is also a bitter taste in the mouth it's been aching to wash away.

Despite contrasting starts, the Beermen aren't letting their guard down.

Sponsored content:
"Kailangan namin mag-step up kasi competitive talaga ngayon ang liga. Iyung ibang teams lumalakas na, wala ng mahinang teams dito sa PBA. Kaya kailangan din naming itaas ang laro namin. Hindi kami pwedeng maging stagnant at over-confident," said seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, who has been a force off the bench after recovering from the calf injury he sustained in SMB's 4-2 triumph over Magnolia in the Commissioner's Cup finals.

Coach Jorge Gallent has set intense training sessions for his troops upon their return from the All Star Game in Bacolod early this week. SMB is using the same regimen it employed upon reassembling from its championship break to start its late, 10-day preparations for the Philippine Cup.

"Iyung mentality namin noong March 4 to 14 (before debuting in the All-Filipino) will be the same," said Gallent, who himself took part in the All Star Game in Bacolod as strategist of Team Mark. (OL)