Top seed San Miguel Beer is the overwhelming favorites to beat the 8th-ranked Star on Monday’s quarterfinal tussle, following its overpowering performance in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations.
But import Tyler Wilkerson cautioned the Beermen on falling into overconfidence, citing the team’s wobbly performance during the latter stages of the eliminations.
“Star is a very good team. I have a good friend who plays there (referring to Hotshots import Ricardo Ratliffe). He’s a strong player and a good import for them,” said Wilkerson, whose team faces the Hotshots at 5:15 p.m.
“We gotta come out strong because the last few games, we have been sluggish. So it’s been tough on us,” he added.
Two-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo is slowly getting back to his deadly form after hurting his right knee last month in a freak accident against Rain or Shine.
Sweet-shooting wingman Arwind Santos is also recovering from the death of his mother.
The Beermen, who enter the playoffs as the top ranked team with their 8-3 record, only need to win once to advance to the best-of-5 semifinal series as they enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage.
San Miguel plastered Star, 117-98 in their only meeting in the elimination round last March.
But Wilkerson said they need to start out strong and finish strong in order to avoid being dragged into a knockout duel with the Hotshots.
“We got to really come out strong against Star, start the game right, set the tone and try to get them out quick,” said Wilkerson, who recorded 50 or more points twice this conference.
“We’ll try to win and play our best. We just need to stay together and make a great run for the championship,” added the 27-year-old former Marshall University standout. – By Richard Dy
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