SMB stakes clean slate vs recharged Meralco

San Miguel Beer is putting its unblemished record on the line when it takes on the challenge from a dangerous Meralco squad in the 2023 PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 9.

June Mar Fajardo (PBA Images)

After passing their first acid test against the Magnolia Hotshots, the Beermen now set their sights on their fifth win against the recharged Bolts in the 6:45 p.m. encounter.

The clash will also come after the battle between Terrafirma and Blackwater both in search of their second win in the 4:30 p.m. affair.

Despite the perfect 4-0 start, SMB head coach Jorge Gallent was quick to remind his charges to not become complacent especially on the defensive after the Beermen displayed some lapses in their 100-98 win over the Hotshots.

SMB raced to an early 16-4 lead in the contest but relaxed in the waning minutes of the opening frame, allowing Magnolia to recover and take the lead.

The same thing happened late in the game when the Beermen allowed the Hotshots to come within two after building a comfortable cushion in the final two minutes.

"As what I always tell you, our defense always trigger the offense. If we played bad defense, which we did in the first quarter and which I pointed out to them, the opponents will score a lot. We struggled with our offense in the first half because of those. We weren't playing defense," Gallent pointed out.

"We weren't reversing the ball. We're just playing one on one. And that's not us. We have to play as a unit for us to progress offensively," he added.

Indeed, such defensive stand is what SMB needs if they wish to contain Meralco which leaned on the hot hands of Allein Maliksi in its huge 125-99 bounce back win over Blackwater.

Maliksi fired 30 points built on six triples to power the rout while KJ McDaniels continued to play big around the rim with 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Aside from the two, the Bolts also have the firepower with Chris Banchero, Chris Newsome, Aaron Black and Bong Quinto all very much capable to hold their own against the Beermen's potent lineup centered on import Cameron Clark, June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez.