San Miguel Beermen crowned ABL Champions

The San Miguel Beermen avenged last season's ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Finals defeat to the Warriors by sweeping the Indonesians to claim the 2013 title.

San Miguel Beermen
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Leading their best-of-five series 2-0, the Beermen tasted Championship success on Wednesday with a 70-55 win in Indonesia in Game 3 on the back of Chris Banchero's all-action performance including 10 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

Banchero was later named Finals MVP although Asi Taulava - the Beermen's talisman in the series opener - must have run the Fil-Italian guard very close for the honour.

Taulava is the reigning ABL ASEAN MVP from the regular season and he capped off a terrific campaign with 19 points at Mahaka Square.

It was game time decision by the Warriors not to play Jerick Canada after the nippy guard strained his knee in last week's Game 2 defeat to the Beermen. Brian Williams was the hero that Sunday, scoring the winning basket off an inbounds play with seconds remaining, and he showed little sympathy towards the defending champions early in Wednesday's contest.

His long jump shot made it a 6-1 start to the visitors before coach Leo Austria pulled him from the game with two fouls.

Justin Williams was brought off the bench in his place and provided the Beermen with some excellent defensive work including several highlight reel worthy blocks on his way to five for the night.

But there was nothing anyone could do to stop Indonesian Mario Wuysang from keeping this must-win encounter for the Warriors alive with seven first quarter points.

Wuysang's three from the wing made it 10-6 for the home team with 4:59 in the opening period forcing Austria to call time out.

That was as good as it got for Indonesia, though, as Banchero would emerge from the huddle fired up - he was part of the Beermen squad that lost to the Warriors in the 2012 ABL Finals - and ready to grab the 2013 Finals by the throat.

A show-and-go floater by Banchero tied things at 10-10 with less than three minutes on the clock. Then, a tough lay-up with the Warriors' defence draped all over him gave his team back the lead.

It finished 14-10 to San Miguel after one.

Warriors livewire Chris Daniels had 15 points and a very solid 19 rebounds in Wednesday's defeat - he opened the second quarter with a nifty reversal followed by turnaround jumper over Eric Menk to level the scores again inside two minutes.

However, the Beermen used their strength in depth with Jeric Fortuna (five points) and Val Acuna (nine points) keeping the Filipinos in front before a fresh Banchero returned to wreak havoc midway through the second quarter.

The San Miguel star was simply doing what he pleased off the pick and roll with Warriors big-man Steven Demon Thomas (five points, 14 rebounds) seemingly hesitant to be caught guarding too far from his basket and meet Banchero at the turn.

When Thomas did commit and force Banchero away from the paint, the point-guard was then able to find Taulava for good-looks which he duly converted.

B. Williams' fade away make ended the half with the Beermen notching up their 33rd point of the night to Indonesia's low 27 points which was incredibly actually higher than the Warriors' woeful 23% field goal shooting percentage they mustered after two quarters.

Another factor in Wednesday's defeat was Canada's absence from the game which heaped more responsibility on Warriors guard Stanley Pringle. The explosive player can be a defender's nightmare when left alone to focus on scoring but his effectiveness - he managed only 11 points on 4/11 shooting as well as four assists in Game 3 - became limited as he burned energy trying to be scorer, playmaker, and defender all wrapped up into one.

The Beermen began to really hit their stride in the third with Acuna knocking down an open three in transition before a bullet pass from Banchero set up Taulava for an easy deuce and an 11-point Beermen lead with 2:40 to go before the fourth period.

Pringle nailed a corner three to cut the deficit but the quarter ended with the ABL champions trailing by 10 points and with only 10 minutes left to save their title.

Taulava pushed the advantage further with four more points to open the final period and although Indonesia's Wuysang (21 points) played with the heart of a warrior by continuing to penetrate and knock down long range shots, the idea of a Game 4 was starting to look like a lost cause

Leo Avenido then sunk the dagger deeper into Warriors' hearts with a triple from the corner to make 61-46 with 6:48 remaining.

Fortuna's lob to J.Williams for the two handed alley-oop shortly after then signalled party time for the Beermen as they romped to a 70-55 victory to sweep the series 3-0 and be crowned 2013 Champions in the ABL.

Quarter Scoring: Q1(10-14) Q2(17-19) Q3(16-20) Q4(12-17)

Final Score: Warriors 55-70 Beermen

Warriors: Wuysang - 21, Daniels - 15, Pringle - 11, Thomas - 5, Smith - 3.

Beermen: Taulava - 19, Banchero - 10, Avenido - 10, Acuna - 9, J. Williams - 7, B. Williams - 6, Fortuna - 5, Hubalde - 2, Menk - 2.

2013 ABL Playoffs Game Centre

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