Austria: Charles would be better at SMB

Leo Austria has plenty of respect for Chris Charles but claims the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers star would be a better player in his San Miguel Beermen side.

Chris Charles
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Charles has lit up the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) in his debut season averaging 19.7 points and 14.5 rebounds per game to help guide the Slammers to the post-season.

The 7-foot tall centre will be integral for the Slammers as they face the Beermen in the Philippines for Game 1 of their ABL Playoff semi-final series on Thursday.

"We know that if we can limit him in terms of scoring, it will be easier for us to win against them," Austria told FOX Sports.

The former Villanova University player has averaged over 21 points in his four regular season clashes against the Beermen - including almost 30 points per game in his last two meetings with the San Miguel outfit.

There hasn't been a better scorer in the ABL than Charles over the course of this season - Dior Lowhorn was a beast with an average of 26.7 points until injuries ended his campaign early with the Saigon Heat - but Austria suspects we have not seen the best out of the American yet.

"Right now, he's the best scorer. I would vote for him to be one of the better centres," Austria said.

"But you know if he were given the chance to play in our team, I think he would be better than he is playing with his team in Thailand. I have to admit for a guy his size, he can run and shoot."

In Asi Taulava, San Miguel have their own 'all-star' centre. The iconic Filipino big-man has won many admirers for his tenacity and ability to compete - and sometimes even dominate - against the ABL's imports despite being 40-years old.

Taulava was voted the ABL's Player of the Month for March and in April he hit the Westports Malaysia Dragons up for a season-high 26 points.

Austria pinpoints Taulava's renaissance in the ABL as vital for the Beermen, who have been able to dominate the league and head into the Playoffs with a record 16-game win streak.

"I think Asi has been playing well and it is great [news]. Nobody expected him to play like an import. With his age he was still able to compete with these young imports," he said.

"I think it's one of the reasons why we are winning. Because of him we are able to have an advantage over the other teams. He's a local player and he can play against the import, so that means we [basically] have two big imports plus him [on our team]."

Taulava averaged 14 points in his four games versus the Slammers in the regular season.

Game 1 of the ABL Playoff series between the Beermen and Slammers tips off on Thursday with Game 2 set for Saturday in the Philippines before shifting to Thailand next Tuesday for Game 3.

San Miguel owns a 4-0 record against the Thais from the regular season.

2013 ABL Playoffs Game Centre

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