SMB eyes 9th straight win

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SMB eyes 9th straight win


League leader San Miguel Beer guns for a ninth straight win when it tackles unpredictable Rain or Shine in an out-of-town Motolite-PBA Fiesta Cup on Saturday at the Tacloban Convention Center in Tacloban City.

The Beermen, riding high on an 8-0 slate, and the Elasto Painters, carrying a 5-5 card, collide in the lone encounter presented by Phoenix Fuels at 5 p.m.

San Miguel matched its previous franchise-best start of 8-0 with a 98-87 win over Philippine Cup champion Talk ’N Text last Wednesday. The Beermen also won their first eight games during the 2004 Fiesta Cup although they failed to get past the quarterfinals.

This time, however, the Beermen are poised to barge into the Final Four stage as they are on track of earning one of the two outright seats in the semis.

Things are looking good for SMB, which won its first seven games without five key players, although in the last three games, former two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) Danny Ildefonso and forward Marc Pingris have returned to action.

The 6-foot-6 Ildefonso had his best game so far against TNT, scoring 11 points with seven rebounds and five assists.

“He’s working really hard to get back to his old form. Having him is really a big help in our frontline rotation,” said SMB mentor Siot Tanquingcen, who hopes to have back other local mainstays like Danny Seigle (back), Lordy Tugade (knee) and Mike Cortez (ACL).

“But our focus of course is to keep the streak alive as we try to move closer to that outright semifinal berth,” Tanquiongcen added.

San Miguel will play a team that dropped its last four games.

One of those setbacks for Rain or Shine includes a 95-102 beating from San Miguel, which Painters coach Caloy Garcia hopes to use as motivation to his players for them to improve their own chances for a possible automatic semis berth.

“We have to keep playing hard, keep our focus and play solid defense against San Miguel,” Garcia said.

Garcia said that aside from defense, they also have to execute their offense and make the outside shots as well for them to get back on the winning track.

Rain or Shine will rely on import Jai Lewis, rookies Gabe Norwood, the Slam Dunk champion in the local edition of the PBA All-Star Week, Sol Mercado and TY Tang, as well as Jay-Arr Reyes, Rob Wainwright, Don Dulay, Ryan Arana and Allan Salansang.

As for San Miguel, import Gabe Freeman will lead the team with able backing from locals like Dondon Hontiveros, Jay Washington, Mick Pennisi, Jonas Villanueva, Olsen Racela, Dorian Pena, Ildefonso and Pingris.
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