Fajardo, Williams come up big for San Miguel to sink Rain or Shine
Sophomore giant June Mar Fajardo and import Reggie Williams combined for 57 points to keep the Painters winless in two outings.
Fajardo, for one, registered a career-high 28 points, per PBA head statistician Fidel Mangonon III, including 10-of-13 free throws, as well as 18 rebounds.
But beyond the numbers, it was his aggression that spelled the difference for the Beermen.
Fajardo wiped out the Painters' frontline in the fourth as he fished the 6th fouls of Beau Belga (with 6:36 left) and Raymond Almazan (with 5:33 left) - leaving Rain or Shine practically defenseless in the paint.
The 2014 Philippine Cup Best Player then pushed Rain or Shine's remaining big man Larry Rodriguez to the brink, collecting his 5th foul with 3:54 remaining.
"I thought June Mar Fajardo looked like June Mar Fajardo not long ago when he was a dominant force," remarked San Miguel active consultant Todd Purves. "I'm real proud of the way he played and the level of aggressiveness he showed on both ends."
Williams, on the other hand, tallied a game-high 29 markers to go with 13 boards, scoring his last 12 points in the all-important payoff period, when the Beermen worked to create distance between them and the Painters.
"Reggie's been wonderful so far on and off the court. He makes the game easy for his teammates because he has a very high basketball IQ," Purves said. "He is a very unselfish player."
San Miguel was already successful at the beginning of the contest, notching double digit leads. But the Painters went on a tear in the second canto with a 31-point output to keep it close at 44-42 by halftime.
Coach Yeng Guiao's wards eventually overtook the Beermen in the third frame and entered the fourth with a 68-66 advantage.
But the fourth became a nip-and-tuck affair with Rain or Shine the first to crack and fall behind.
Most of the 7 deadlocks and 14 lead changes between the two squads transpired in the fourth with the two teams exchanging runs.
But just as Paul Lee (13 points) tied the count at 85-all with 4:11 to play, one of the Beermen's top performing duo Fajardo completed an and-one play to push his team ahead, 88-85.
Lee still managed to get a baseline fadeaway to go to keep it close but the second half of San Miguel's frontline delivered from beyond the arc with a huge triple that sucked the air out of Rain or Shine, 91-87, with 2:24 to play.
Another crucial conversion ensued as Chris Ross made a layup for his first two points with 1:41 remaining, 93-87. The Beermen's captain eventually sealed the deal with a couple of freebies with 17.5 ticks left, 95-90.
Purves also commended forward Arwind Santos for coming out with a defensive intensity he failed to show in the Beermen's loss against Alaska.
"Arwind Santos played great defense tonight," Purves said. "He put his heart out there tonight defensively."
Santos finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine's Arizona Reid came up with 27 points and 18 rebounds, and Chris Tiu chipped in 11 markers in a losing cause.
San Miguel Beer 97 - Williams 29, Fajardo 28, Santos 10, Lassiter 8, Maierhofer 7, Tubid 5, Ross 4, Lutz 4, Chua 2, Lanete 0, Kramer 0, Mercado 0.
Rain or Shine 92 - Reid 27, Lee 13, Tiu 11, Almazan 9, Chan 9, Rodriguez 8, Norwood 5, Uyloan 3, Cruz 2, Arana 2, Ibanes 2, Nuyles 1, Belga 0.
Quarter scores: 21-11, 44-42, 66-68, 97-92.