Finals Preview: San Miguel Beermen vs Indonesia Warriors
The marquee rumble fans have been waiting for is finally here. The San Miguel Beermen and the Indonesia Warriors are set for another classic duel on the ABL’s biggest stage.
The Beermen look to avenge their heartbreaking loss in the 2012 finals while the Warriors are seeking to become the first team ever in the ABL to win back-to-back championships. The AirAsia 2013 ABL Finals will begin on Friday night at Ynares Sports Arena, Philippines.
This best-of-five series will feature a couple of intriguing matchups, including a battle between arguably the two best guards in the league, Chris Banchero and Stanley Pringle.
It will also be an interesting matchup between the head coaches, Leo Austria and Todd Purves. Both coaches emphasize the importance of defense. They have also proved themselves as master tacticians. Purves was named the 2012 Coach of the Year while Austria won the accolade this season.
The Beermen holds a 3-1 lead in the season series against the Warriors. During their four meetings however, the average margin of victory has only been 5.5 points. San Miguel finished the regular season atop the ABL standings table with a record of 19-3, while the Warriors were second with 16-6.
Beermen head coach Austria knows that the Finals will be a different ball game however, and that a 3-1 season series lead during the regular season will not matter. “It’s a great motivation for us but it’s not going to guarantee us to win a championship against them. All the stats and records will have to be put aside because the championship is a much different thing,” said Austria on the Beermen’s advantage over the Warriors during the regular season. “I think this series is very exciting and both teams are very competitive.”
Heading into Game 1 on Friday, Banchero looks forward to the challenge of playing against the defending champions. “You got two of the best teams in the league. Both teams like to play defense and are well coached. They [Warriors] have firepower with Stanley [Pringle], Mario [Wuysang] and Steven [Thomas]. I’m so excited to play the Warriors again in the Finals and it’s going to be fun.”
San Miguel are coming off a physical battle against the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers in the semi-final round. After losing in Game 1, the Beermen managed to win the next three games over the Slammers to book their spot in the ABL Finals. Their last game was on May 30th where they eliminated the Slammers after a 77-61 win. Paulo Hubalde led the Beermen with 16 points while Asi had 15 points.
Indonesia ensured their return to the ABL Finals after sweeping the Westports Malaysia Dragons in the semi-final round. During Game 3, Pringle electrified the crowd at MABA Stadium, Malaysia, where his 24 points led the Warriors to an 81-64 victory.
Mario Wuysang feels the key factor for this game does not only lie in the technical aspects of the game but it would also be decided by the non-technical factors. “It all comes down to wanting it more. It’s about heart. We have to play with more intensity, with more heart than we’ve ever played all season,” says Wuysang on the non-technical factors. “Besides that, we have to rebound, we have to get back in transition and make them play in the half-court.”
Coach Todd feels the size of the Beermen’s team would cause difficulties for his team and he hopes his front line can stay out of foul trouble during this series. “San Miguel is relentless on the board. They always do a great job with their offensive rebounding and they have a multitude of big bodies. I need my front line to stay out of foul trouble,” says Coach Todd. “Our opponent is immensely talented. We have a complete and total respect for them, but we’re a confident group of men as well. I anticipate a fabulous finals.”