MANILA, Philippines -- San Miguel head coach Leo Austria hailed the work done by their second unit after the Beermen downed Magnolia, 98-86, in Game 6 of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup finals on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
With their backs against the wall in the best-of-7 series, the Beermen played with great intensity right from the get-go. They held the Hotshots to just 12 points in the opening frame, eventually led by more than 20 points, and forced a do-or-die Game 7 for the All-Filipino title.
Plenty of credit must go to their second unit, anchored by Christian Standhardinger and Terrence Romeo, for how they performed in the first half, Austria said.
"I think what happened in the game, we played good defense because of our second group. 'Yung second group, nahawa na lahat sa kanila," Austria said after their win.
"I think that is Christian, Terrence Romeo, Matt (Ganuelas-Rosser) and Von Pessumal. And then from there, medyo nagkaroon kami ng baon papunta sa second half," he added.
With their bench players providing a big jolt of energy, the Beermen raced to a 21-point lead midway through the second quarter, 37-16, and again at 39-18. Standhardinger opened up the second period with back-to-back buckets, before assisting on a lay-up for Ganuelas-Rosser.
When their starters returned, the team was playing at a high level: Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter nailed three-pointers in succession that pushed their advantage further.
And when the Hotshots responded with a 13-0 run, Standhardinger was there to fend them off. His 3-point play with 1:36 left in the period re-energized the Beermen, and they went into the break with a 50-36 lead.
"Just trying to play hard," said Standhardinger, who finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds in just 22 minutes. "I'm very happy we got the victory."
Lassiter, who earned Player of the Game honors after totalling 20 points, said that their second group "came out mentally prepared."
"They wanted to come out with even more aggression, and it all started with defense and making stops. That's what our style of play is, making stops and they actually lifted us to another gear," he said.
"We need to keep going with that intensity. It was great to see them come out and bring that energy," he added.
SMB's bench wound up with 27 points to 26 for their Magnolia counterparts.
The Beermen are now headed to a do-or-die Game 7 on Wednesday, where they will try to annex a fifth consecutive All-Filipino title.
"Nothing is done," said Standhardinger, who is looking for his first championship with SMB. "You know, I don't care what happened in history. We just need to focus and play our best next game win or lose."
"We just gotta keep going," he added. "We're gonna keep going hard, like I said, and we're gonna try to use our intensity, our experience, and our great talent with June Mar, with Chris (Ross). Chris Ross is doing an amazing job this series."
"Marcio was important the last 2 games, amazing how he's playing. So that helps us a lot. And we just need that to counteract their intensity and their great coaching."
Game 7 is on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
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