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PBA: SMB eyes 2-0 lead

Alaska's Diamon Simpson drives past San Miguel's Renaldo Balkman  (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Alaska’s Diamon Simpson drives past San Miguel’s Renaldo Balkman (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

by Jonas Terrado

Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Alaska vs San Miguel
(San Miguel leads series 1-0)

Defending champion San Miguel Beer looks to move a win shy of a return trip to the finals when it shoots for a 2-0 lead against Alaska in Game 2 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen attempt to reassert their dominance like they did in Saturday’s 92-79 victory at the Mall of Asia Arena in the 7 p.m. match opposite an Aces team whose coach remains a firm believer of a comeback.

“I am a believer,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton, whose wards struggled shooting the outside shot, particularly from the three-point line, while turning the ball at the time when the Aces were trying to make a comeback.

Compton took a famous biblical story as an example of what Alaska needs to do to avoid falling a 0-2 hole.

“I always think that the Davids of the world have a chance,” he said. “But man, David had to be real accurate with that sling. If he was off with his arm, Goliath would have eaten him for lunch. Right?

“So we gotta be pretty spot on with all the stuff we’re doing,” added the American mentor who has suffered three finals defeats to the Beermen.

San Miguel claimed the series opener behind timely contributions of top draft pick Christian Standhardinger and veteran Kelly Nabong.

Standhardinger hit all of his nine points in the second quarter of his first game after a six-game absence due to a knee injury, helping the Beermen pull away while Nabong had his best performance in an SMB uniform since being traded from GlobalPort by knocking down 11 points.

Having Standhardinger and Nabong step up would bode well for coach Leo Austria, who relies more on import Renaldo Balkman, June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross.

“I know Alaska will do more because I think that’s not their game so we’re expecting some more from them,” said Austria.

Import Diamon Simpson was the lone bright spot with 31 points, 24 rebounds, two assists, five steals and three blocks as Vic Manuel saw the end of his streak of 11 straight games of at least 20 points by scoring 16 on 7-of-20 shooting.

But Compton seems to be satisfied with the way Alaska played but stressed that things have to be improved in order to split the first two games.

“I thought our guys battled. Obviously, we missed a tons of shots. We just missed a ton of shots that really hurt us. And some really bad turnovers,” he said.

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