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PBA: SMB faces Kia

Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Kia
7 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs Meralco

Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer starts its bid for back-to-back championships as its battles Kia today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The SMB-Kia game is scheduled at 4:15 p.m., while Talk ’N Text meets Meralco in a battle of unbeaten teams at 7 p.m.

TNT and Meralco share the early lead with Barako Bull at 2-0 and the two teams, both owned by Manny Pangilinan, will shoot for the solo lead.

The Beermen are still on a “Cloud 9” after capturing the all-Filipino title in a dramatic seven-game series with Alaska two weeks ago.

While they are likely to be still physically tired and emotionally drained from that battle, the Beermen are still expected to start their campaign on a winning note given the kind of line up of Kia has.

“We’re excited to start our bid for another title,” said SMB Coach Leo Austria, who earned his first PBA championship on his very first finals stint and first conference with the food beverage conglomerate.

“Well, hopefully we can sustain the momentum and the success from our last championship. We know that aiming for a second straight title is not easy, but we’ll try our very best,” added Austria.

San Miguel Beer will have Ronald Roberts at its reinforcement after efforts to bring in Arinze Onuaku did not materialize since the latter is said to be waiting for a possible stint in the NBA.

The 6-foot-8 Roberts, a product of Saint Joseph’s University, played for the Philadelphia 76ers during the NBA Summer League after going undrafted in the previous NBA Rookie Draft. After signing a contract in late September, he was waived the following month by the Sixers.

Roberts, 23, played just two games for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA D-League, averaging 8.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, before he was tabbed by SMB. He arrived last Sunday.

“He can play the 3-4-5 positions (small forward, power forward and center). He’s adjusting well to our system in our practice, but we’ll see in the game against Kia,” said Austria.

SMB has kept its roster intact as the players that played key roles in the team’s successful title campaign in the Philippine Cup are returning to action, including reigning MVP and 6-foot-10 center June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos, who was named the PBA Press Corps Finals MVP.

Joining Roberts, Fajardo and Santos are other mainstays Alex Cabagnot, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Tubid, Chris Ross, Doug Kramer and rookies Ronald Pascual and David Semerad.

San Miguel Beer will face a Kia team that has dropped its first two games, losing to Globalport (100-89) and Meralco (90-80) last week.

The Carnival’s 7-foot-4 import Peter John Ramos has been averaging a league-best 37.5 points and 20.5 rebounds, but the lack of support proved to be the key factor in the two setbacks of the team.

In the other game TNT and Meralco, tied on top for the early lead with Barako Bull all holding 2-0 cards.

The Tropang Texters won against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (89-86) and the Blckwater Elite (88-78). The Bolts defeated the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings (85-74) and the Carnival (90-80).