The deep roster of the San Miguel Beermen was one of the main factors as SMB took Game 1 of their best-of-five series against the Alaska Aces last Saturday, 92-79.
Beermen coach Leo Austria used his proven effective strategy where he gave most of the playing time to his starters and only needed three more key personnel from his bench.
On the other hand, Alaska’s stars are missing from their lineup as both Calvin Abueva and Chris Banchero were both not available.
Going back to their historic 2016 PBA Philippine Cup Finals duel, SMB now won five straight against Alaska in the playoffs.
Winning first game is important according to coach Austria and securing a victory will set their winning momentum.
“In any series, it’s always important to win Game One. We wanted to win the game to dictate the tempo and for them to think hard for their adjustment,” said Austria.
Beermen import Renaldo Balkman logged 13 points and 11 rebounds during his birthday while four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo lead his team in scoring with his 17 points along with 11 rebounds.
In his third game after coming back as the import of Alaska, Diamon Simpson made a stellar performance. Simpson registered 31 points and 24 rebounds but not enough to get a victory.
Vic Manuel one of the favorite players to win the Best of the Conference trophy was only held to 16 points and the only Alaska Aces local to reach in double-figures.
Manuel’s 20+ streak has ended after he making 11 straight which started during the early phase of the elimination round.
“Parang sobrang dami ng naging turnovers namin. Hanggang pagpasok ng fourth, parang di kami magkaintindihan. Iga-grab na nga lang yung rebound, mawawala pa. Yun siguro naging problema namin,” Manuel said.