MANILA, Philippines - Amid the hype of the match-up between top guards Chris Banchero of San Miguel and Stanley Pringle of Indonesia Warriors, SMB veteran Froilan Baguion wants to remind everyone that he should not be stricken off the equation in the ongoing AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League championship series.
Baguion, the starting point guard before Fil-Italian Banchero got the green light to play, gave the Beermen a much-needed lift in their 86-83 Game One conquest of the Warriors Saturday night at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Giving Banchero relief from doing playmaking chores to concentrate on containing Pringle, the 5-11 Baguion hit a booming triple in the crucial stretch of the fourth quarter – his only connection in two tries – that knotted the count at 77-all after SMB trailed by six some three minutes back.
He issued nine assists that night, highlight of which was an alley-hoop pass that Nick Fazekas consummated, restoring a four-point cushion going to the last 28.5 seconds. Now Baguion is a victory away from a grandslam of sorts in the ABL, having won rings with the Patriots and Thailand Slammers previously.
"Froilan Baguion had three points but it was a momentum changer. He also had nine assists. Don't have to score big all the time to make things happen," said San Miguel sports consultant Noli Eala.
SMB coach Bobby Parks said given Baguion’s experience, they really expected him to be a big factor in this campaign.
"Froilan is a veteran, he's in the championship the last two years, so we know what he can give us. As you recall, we have Froilan running the point most of the year (before Banchero became eligible) and now we had luxury where we have two good point guards," Parks said.
The duo, with Baguion at one and Banchero at two, was instrumental in the Beermen's championship run in the To Be Number One tournament in the pre-season in Bangkok.
Occupied with shackling the Fil-Am Pringle, Banchero finished with 11 points and seven assists, to go with two rebounds.
Pringle, who was not in the lineup yet when SMB swept Indonesia in their three meetings in the elims, waxed hot with 14 in the first period but was held to only seven more the rest of the way.
"I'm satisfied with our defense on Pringle. Well, except in the first quarter where he had 14 points but that comes from like I said we haven't seen much of him. Now we've had our first-hand look at him. He's a good player but we did a better job against him in second half," said Parks.
Parks also expressed bright hopes for 6-foot-9 June Mar Fajardo, who had seven markers and five rebounds in a foul-riddled 10 minutes trying to hound Warriors' Steven Thomas (16 points).