PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — San Miguel-RP Team finally found its groove and beat Bahrain’s Al Muharraq 99-80 Wednesday to make the quarterfinals of the 18th FIBA Asia Champions Cup at the Azadi Stadium here.
Grittily bucking a sprained right ankle Danny Seigle scored 20 points while three other Nationals, led by Asi Taulava’s 18 points and 14 rebounds, also turned in double figures in a game they mostly dominated from the get-go.
”This game is like letting out all our frustrations, you know?” said Seigle, his ankle injured in Monday’s loss to Kazakhstan’s Astana Tigers heavily wrapped in ice after the game.
The win was just the first in four games for the Nationals, but enough to make them the third and last qualifier from Group B to Friday’s quarterfinals.
All because of the fact, RP coach Chot Reyes pointed out, his team finally went up against an opponent that didn’t have a dominant import like the seven-footers from Iran, Kzakhstan and Syria.
”They [Bahrain imports] are quietly efficient and blue-collar workers, much like taller versions of a [Alaska import] Rosell Ellis. But our discrepancy in size is not that big and that’s the only opening we needed,” he said.
Thursday is a rest day for the tournament, but not for the Nationals who have squeezed in a tune-up game with the Iran National team that has a 7’5 center and two 6’11s.
For sure, firepower was not a problem this time as the Nationals buried Bahrain with 11 triples before finishing with a 39-for-71 clip from the field. Renren Ritualo provided the most sustaining fire by scoring 18 points off the bench.
Meanwhile, Alaska and Red Bull seek important wins to stay in hunt for the outright semis berths. The Aces (9-5) meet Purefoods (5-10) in the main game at 7:20 p.m. while the Bulls (9-5) collide with Welcoat (3-11) in the opener at 4:35 p.m.