ABL: Heroic Williams edges Beermen to title

San Miguel's Brian Williams scored with 5.2 seconds left to win Game 2 of the ASEAN Basketball League Finals (ABL) against the Indonesia Warriors.

Brian Williams
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Around 2,800 basketball fans packed into the Ynares Sports Arena on Sunday hoping to watch a repeat of Asi Taulava's Game 1 heroics in Friday's five-point victory for the Beermen.

Instead, they were treated to an even more dramatic day as B. Williams scored of an inbound play with just seconds remaining to secure a 66-65 win and the 2-0 series lead over the defending champions in the 2013 ABL Finals.

The best-of-five series heads to Indonesia next Wednesday for Game 3, but the Warriors will certainly feel hard done by that they are returning from their trip to the Philippines empty handed - especially when they led the Beermen 65-64 with 22.7 seconds left in Sunday's clash.

Stanley Pringle, who had an awful first half with just five points on 1/7 shooting, had just made a tough jump-shot with a hand in his face to score his 21st point of the afternoon and put his team in front as well as one defensive stop away from a vital road win.

And it looked like they were about to complete the job when a messy Beermen play left big-man Taulava near the corner with the shot clock starting to tick down. He managed to get it to Leo Avenido to throw up a prayer which failed to find the bottom of the net and went out-of-bounds off Warriors hard-man Chris Daniels with only 6.8 seconds remaining.

At this point the Beermen did not have any time-outs left but in a bid to make extra sure of things, Warriors coach Todd Purves called his team into a huddle to go over his plans defensively.

The negative part of this move was it also handed Beermen coach Leo Austria the opportunity to regroup and draw up a play of his own.

In the regular season, Austria has tended to design plays for Banchero to score off the inbound pass. This time Austria had Banchero set a back-screen leaving B. Williams free to cut to the basket where Avenido easily found him for the lay-up.

Pringle did well to get down the floor and get a decent shot off in just 5.2 seconds but it clanked off the iron to spark wild celebrations at Ynares Sports Arena.

"That last play was actually a play that the Warriors has been killing us with all season. The funny thing is that we finally did it to them and it worked to perfection. I'm just glad I made that game winner," Williams, who scored 17 points and pulled them 16 rebounds, said.

In truth, the Beermen looked comfortable in high pressure situations during Game 2 as illustrated by Banchero (12 points, five assists) exuding calmness to dish to Justin Williams to score just as the siren signalled the end if the first quarter.

At this point, the Warriors were lucky to be only down 14-12 as they were shooting the ball woefully in the opening period at 4/18 from the field and 0/6 from three-point land.

In contrast, the Beermen revelled at playing in front of their home fans and pushed their lead to double digits on consecutive threes, first by Jeric Fortuna, and then Banchero, to make it a 12-point game.

Warriors guard Mario Wuysang picked up the slack with five quick points and when Jerick Canada (11 points) connected on a triple from the wing, the lead had shrunk down to just two points with 3:15 to go before half-time.

The momentum looked like shifting further when Pringle opened the third quarter with four straight points to hand the Warriros their first lead of the game at 38-37.

Steven Thomas was also impressing for the Warriors on his way to 13 points and 13 rebounds.

But it was Pringle who closed out the third for the Warriors in style as the Fil-Am guard froze the Filipino defence with a stutter step before driving and making the lay-up over the outstretched arms of Taulava.

The Warriros led 51-49 to start the fourth which became a real back-and-forth affair with both teams trading blows like seasoned heavyweights.

Canada hit his third three pointer of the game early on for a four-point cushion for the Warriors but four points in a row from Avenido tied the game up again with six minutes remaining.

Two pressure free-throws from Banchero then handed the Beermen back the initiative at 63-61 with 2:22 on the clock.

A loose ball foul on B. Williams would send Daniels (15 points, 11 rebounds) to the line but he split his free-throws.

At 63-62 for the Beermen, Taulava (eight points) had his chance to become the hero again in the series when he worked Thomas one-on-one on the baseline but his one-handed fade-away shot fell way short.

It could have become a costly miss from the Beermen's Game 1 saviour, as on the next play Pringle drew a silly foul from Jr. Cawaling.

However, the Fil-Am only made one free-throw setting up a tense 63-63 finale with 56.3 seconds.

In the end there was nothing for the Beermen to be worried about even when Pringle gave the Warriors the lead at 65-64 with 22.7 seconds.

The play was drawn with up 6.8 seconds left for B. Williams to score the winning basket and the big man stepped up to the challenge.

Game 3 is on Wednesday in Indonesia, where the Warriors have to win to keep their title defence hopes alive.

Quarter Scoring: Q1(14-12) Q2(23-22) Q3(12-17) Q4(17-14)

Final Score: Beermen 66-65 Warriors

Beermen: B. Williams - 17, Banchero - 12, Avenido - 8, Taulava - 8, Acuna - 7 , Fortuna - 6, J. Williams - 6, Hubalde - 2.

Warriors: Pringle - 21, Daniels - 15, Thomas - 13, Canada - 11, Wuysang - 5.

2013 ABL Playoffs Game Centre

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