ABL: Asi mettle hands Beermen series lead

A gritty performance by Asi Taulava and his San Miguel Beermen saw them beat Sports Rev Thailand Slammers 70-62 to take back homecourt advantage in the Playoffs.

Asi Taulava
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Taulava's 13 points did not tell the full story of his game-winning display as it was the 40-year-old who kept his nerve with vital free-throws down the stretch to put the Beermen 2-1 up in the series.

Taulava stood tall for the Filipinos as imports Brian Williams (14 points, seven rebounds) and Justin Williams (9 points, four blocks) fouled out late in the fourth.

Chris Charles had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in the losing effort for the Thais.

Game 4 of San Miguel's best-of-five ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Playoff Semi-final series with the Slammers is on Thursday in Bangkok.

Slammers coach Joe Bryant again opted not to start import Darrius Brannon for Tuesday's encounter, perhaps to keep him out of foul trouble, but the negative side to this move was that it allowed Beermen big-man Taulava a clear mismatch against Sukhdavb Ghogar.

However, it was San Miguel's other big-man B. Williams who enabled the visitors to jump out to a 12-0 run to start the contest.

After Leo Avenido put San Miguel on the board with a triple immediately from the tip-off, B. Williams helped himself to a trio of offensive rebounds and put-backs to push the score up in his team's favour.

Wutipong Dasom responded for the Thais with eight first quarter points but the Beermen punished the Slammers with another three more makes from beyond the arc to close out the quarter leading 27-12.

Charles started the game cold but began to get more involved in the second period with a long jump shot to kick things off and later the ABL's newly crowned Defensive Player of the Year denied Chris Banchero a lay-up with a block from behind.

But the Beermen were in excellent scoring rhythm at this point and built a 20-point plus lead in the second quarter leaving the Thais with a huge fight back on their hands to save the game.

Froilan Baguin stole the ball late in the second and completed the fast-break score for two of his 13 points on the night to help trim the advantage but his team trailed 44-26 at the half.

Whatever coach Bryant said to his team in the Slammers' dressing room during the break, he should probably consider saying it at the start of games because his side came to play in the second half.

First Baguion knocked down a shot from downtown - their first make out of 12 at this point - to begin the Thai scoring in the third. Then, Brannon with an unselfish lay-off to Klahan for the easy bucket with 6:12 remaining in the quarter made it an 11-point game.

Klahan then hit a hook shot midway through the third to make 44-35 to the Beermen who incredibly only managed six points in the entire quarter - and all of them were from the charity stripe.

It became a five-point game when Charles smartly passed out of a double-team for the cutting Brannon to dunk emphatically.

Taulava did his best to stem the Thai tide with two important free-throw makes with 1:51 on the clock helping San Miguel cling onto a 50-41 lead as the fourth quarter came around.

Baguion again connected with a long triple to start the quarter and shortly after that the veteran point-guard assisted for Charles inside to make it a six-point game.

The Bangkok crowd sensed a comeback win moments later when Avenido's shot was rejected by Charles allowing Luis Gonzaga to go coast-to-coast for the lay-up making it 52-48 with 6:30 remaining.

This was about as close as the Thais would get though as the Filipinos kept it to a three possession game with their free-throw shooting.

Taulava was a leader in this department making 9/12 on the night including two clutch free-throws with 30.2 seconds remaing to ensure the final score line of 70-62 for Leo Austria's side.

Thailand couldn't convert on two quick attempts on the next play and who else from the Beermen but Taulava hustling for the loose ball to end home hopes of a win.

"I feel good. I've been down this series and struggled in the first two games. I just want to thank my team-mates. They believed in me," Taulava said in his post-match TV interview after being named Player of the Game.

He added: "It was a dog fight tonight [Tuesday]".

Quarter scoring: Q1(12-27) Q2(14-17) Q3(15-6) Q4(21-20)

Full-Time: Slammers 62-70 Beermen

Slammers: Charles - 17, Baguion - 13, Dasom - 10, Klahan - 8, Ghogar - 4, Brannon - 4, Apiromvilaichai - 2, Gonzaga - 2, Kongkum - 2.

Beermen: B. Williams - 14, Taulava - 13, J. Williams - 9, Banchero - 7, Avenido - 7, Hubalde - 6, Cawaling - 5, Menk - 5, Acuna - 2, Fortuna - 2.

2013 ABL Playoffs Game Centre

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