September 19, 2017

Hard-pressed for a win, San Miguel is all business against Phoenix

San Miguel Beer promises not to take Phoenix Petroleum for granted as the Beermen continue chase of a Top Four finish in the PBA Governors Cup at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo Wednesday night.

SMB coach Leo Austria said they have to be on their toes as Phoenix will be a dangerous rival playing without any pressure at all.

The Fuel Masters are out of the playoff race, having lost eight straight games curiously after a 2-0 start in the season-ending tourney.

At 6-3, the Beermen, meanwhile, are in a mad scramble for the Top Four versus the Barangay Ginebra Kings (8-2), the Meralco Bolts (7-2), the NLEX Road Warriors (7-3), the TNT KaTropa Texters (7-3), the Star Hotshots (5-4) and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (5-4).

San Miguel and Phoenix clash in the 7 p.m. mainer in the fourth to the last play date of the single-round-robin elims.

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With eight games left, Phoenix is out of the playoff race along with GlobalPort (3-7), Alaska Milk (3-7) and Kia (0-10).

An upset versus San Miguel can't be ruled out, though, as the Fuel Masters are raring to end their season on a winning note.

"That's one big reason why we can't take them for granted," said Austria.

The Beermen actually must sweep their last two games versus the Fuel Masters and against the Meralco Bolts on Sunday for a sure shot at the Top Four and its reward of a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

Austria and his troops wheeled back into contention in the fight for the "win-once" edge in the quarters in winning their last three games against Rain or Shine (103-96), Ginebra (107-103) and Kia (118-112).

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They stood on a shaky ground before that with losses to Star, NLEX and Alaska with June Mar Fajardo nursing an injury.

Fajardo announced his back in their last game, churning out 41 points and 17 rebounds to power the Beermen past the Picanto, 118-112.

The other SMB key locals also delivered as their coach opted to sit out import Terrence Watson in the fourth quarter.