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Sports

Coach qualifies PBA winner

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Coach qualifies PBA winner
Ariel Vanguardia.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia said yesterday the outcome of tomorrow’s PBA Philippine Cup semifinal Game 7 between San Miguel Beer and Meralco will depend on how large or small the margins settle.

“If it’s a blowout, San Miguel wins but if it’s a close game, Meralco wins,” said Vanguardia. “San Miguel has too many weapons that sometimes, it could be a problem because you can’t decide whom to put in. For Meralco to win, Aaron Black and Allein Maliksi must play exceptionally. For San Miguel to win, anyone could explode because they’re so deep.”

Defense has been the tenor of the series. In San Miguel’s three wins so far, Meralco has been limited to an average of 88.7 points. In Meralco’s three wins, San Miguel has averaged 92.3 points compared to 102 in the Beermen’s victories. Neither team has breached 100 points in the last two outings.

San Miguel’s record in a best-of-7 Philippine Cup semifinals under coach Leo Austria is 5-1 but the last appearance was a loss in Game 7 to TNT in the previous edition. A win over Meralco will return San Miguel to the Philippine Cup finals which it won five in a row from 2015 to 2019. Austria has piloted the Beermen to nine finals, five in the Philippine Cup. Meralco has won nine of its last 13 contests. Against San Miguel, the Bolts have won six of their last 10 meetings dating back to last season. Three of the four losses came in the ongoing semifinals and the other setback was in the last Governors’ Cup where Meralco lost despite a 26-point lead in the third quarter. Meralco has defeated San Miguel in their last two playoff encounters and is in its fifth straight conference semifinals, third consecutive in the Philippine Cup.

Vanguardia said Blackwater import Cameron Krutwig arrived from Chicago last Sunday. He’ll play for the Bossing in a tune-up game against EASL’s Bay Area Dragons at Kerry Sports in Shangri-La The Fort, BGC, tomorrow. Krutwig, 23, will suit up for Blackwater in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup which starts Sept. 21. The import ceiling is 6-9 15/16 or under 6-10. The Dragons will compete as a guest team eligible to vie for the title. Among the other imports are Meralco’s Johnny O’Bryant, NorthPort’s Prince Ibeh, Converge’s Quincy Miller, Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee, Bay Area’s Andrew Nicholson and Phoenix’ Kaleb Wesson.

ARIEL VANGUARDIA

COACH

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