MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel averted a massive collapse in the season debut of Terrence Romeo and escaped Meralco in a 113-108 win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena on Friday, December 2.
Devon Scott hit a pair of crucial free throws that kept the Bolts at bay and finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds as the Beermen, who ended the eliminations with a 7-5 card, enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak.
Seeded fifth, San Miguel will face No. 4 Converge in a best-of-three quarterfinal affair.
Burdened by back issues, Romeo made his presence felt in his first PBA game since March by scoring 12 points in 16 minutes of action.
Romeo scattered 10 points through the first three quarters as San Miguel built a commanding 94-73 lead before Meralco staged a last-ditch comeback in the final salvo.
Led by import KJ McDaniels and Raymar Jose, the Bolts got within single possession with under 15 seconds remaining, 108-111, but Scott secured the win for the defending champions by coolly sinking his late foul shots.
San Miguel guard Marcio Lassiter appeared to have escaped with a backcourt violation before Scott got fouled.
Lassiter finished with 13 points on 3-of-4 clip from long distance as he moved up to No. 7 in the all-time PBA three-pointers list with 1,008 triples.
Jericho Cruz and CJ Perez chimed in 10 points apiece for the Beermen, Simon Enciso added 8 points and 7 assists, while June Mar Fajardo contributed 8 points and 6 rebounds.
San Miguel remained without head coach Leo Austria, who initially sat out due to health and safety protocols, and deputy Jorge Gallent called the shots in his stead.
McDaniels chalked up 27 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 assists in the loss as he missed the playoffs for the first time since he started his import career in the PBA.
The former NBA player reached at least the quarterfinals during his stints with TNT and NLEX.
Meralco failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup as it compiled a 4-8 record, with its loss to NLEX on Wednesday dashing its quarterfinal bid.
Jose turned in arguably his finest PBA performance to date after churning out 16 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for the Bolts, while Aaron Black had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
San Miguel 113 – Scott 32, Lassiter 13, Romeo 12, Cruz 10, Perez 10, Fajardo 9, Enciso 8, Manuel 7, Tautuaa 6, Brondial 4, Zamar 2, Ross 0, Herndon 0.
Meralco 108 – McDaniel 27, Black 21, Jose 16, Quinto 15, Caram 9, Maliksi 7, Pasaol 4, Belo 4, Hugnatan 3, Hodge 2, Pascual 0, Baclao 0, Johnson 0.
Quarters: 28-21, 70-50, 94-73, 113-108.