MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen leaned on a high-scoring fourth quarter in thwarting the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 104-96, to start their title-retention bid in the Philippine Cup on a high note at the Araneta Coliseum Sunday, December 17.
Leading by 8 points midway the fourth period, 92-84, San Miguel, which is gunning for its fourth straight All-Filipino Cup championship, used an 11-0 run for its biggest lead of the game, 103-84.
Phoenix unloaded an 12-1 spurt in the final few minutes but the Beermen’s lead was too big to overcome. The Fuel Masters cut their deficit to just 5 points earlier in the payoff quarter, 80-85, but Marcio Lassiter scored two straight triples that kept San Miguel afloat.
All of San Miguel’s starters reached double figures with 3 finishing with at least 20 points.
June Mar Fajardo dropped a game-high 23 points to go with 16 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks while Alex Cabagnot and Lassiter made their presence felt with 22 and 20 markers, respectively.
Chris Ross chipped in 16 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds while Arwind Santos scored 14 and hauled down 11 caroms.
“The first win is always really hard, especially for our team, everybody prepares hard for us. Fortunately all of our starters scored in double figures,” said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria.
“It’s a good thing na nagkaroon ng sense of urgency ang mga players dahil we can’t afford to lose our first game because we have a title to defend. This win could give us a lot of confidence dahil alam naman natin na laging sinasabi nila na Beermen is the team to beat.”
(It’s a good thing that the players had a sense of urgency since we can’t afford to lose our first game because we have a title to defend. This win could give us a lot of confidence because we all know that they say we are the team to beat.)
Jeff Chan paced the Fuel Masters with 18 markers while Matthew Wright contributed 12. Gelo Alolino, Justin Chua and Willie Wilson had 11 points apiece.
San Miguel (104): Fajardo 23, Cabagnot 22, Lassiter 20, Ross 16, Santos 14, Pessumal 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Heruela 0, Mamaril 0, Vigil 0, Agovida 0, Lanete 0, Mabulac 0
Phoenix (96): Chan 18, Wright 12, Alolino 11, Chua 11, Wilson 11, Perkins 10, Dehesa 8, Kramer 6, Jazul 4, Intal 2, Eriobu 2, Revilla 1
Quarter scores: 23-18, 47-37, 79-68, 104-96. – Rappler.com