THE San Miguel Beermen are aching for redemption especially after losing in the finals of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) earlier this year. They’ll get that chance in two weeks when they open their campaign over in Indonesia against their finals tormentors, the Warriors.
This time around though, the Beermen got some reinforcements for their title campaign in the face of two former PBA MVPs in Asi “The Rock” Taulava and Eric “Major Pain” Menk, who signed up with San Miguel in the offseason to offset the loss of their top big man last year, Cebuano Junemar Fajardo, who went on to become the PBA’s top pick in the draft.
The 6-foot-9 Taulava and the 6-foot-6 Menk join a talented core led by last year’s league MVP, Leo Avenido and flanked by Fil-Italian, Chris Banchero, Hans Thiele, Val Acuna, Mike Burstcher, JR Cawaling, Axel Doruelo, RJ Rizada, Paolo Hubalde and Bacon Austria.
San Miguel’s imports will be Gabe Freeman and Brian Williams. The Beermen will also boast of a new head coach in Leo Austria, who took over the reins left behind by Bobby Parks Sr. who had to step down because of health issues.
In contrast, the Beermen’s chief rivals, the Warriors, will start the season minus their star guard, Stanley Pringle, who sustained a knee injury in the offseason.
The other teams competing in the league are the Chang Thailand Slammers, the Westport Malaysia Dragons, the Singapore Slingers and the Saigon Heat. Gone from the roster is the league’s inaugural champions, the AirAsia Philippine Patriots, which begged off from joining the tournament after team owner, Mikee Romero, decided to join the PBA. /Correspondent Jonas Panerio