PBA Governors' Cup

Muhammad drops 57 as San Miguel shocks Meralco in 26-point comeback

Delfin Dioquino
Muhammad drops 57 as San Miguel shocks Meralco in 26-point comeback

HIGH NOTE. Shabazz Muhammad and San Miguel wrap up the elimination round with back-to-back wins.

PBA Images

Former NBA player Shabazz Muhammad turns in a breathtaking performance to keep the playoffs-bound San Miguel in the running for a twice-to-beat quarterfinal bonus

MANILA, Philippines – Shabazz Muhammad put San Miguel on his back as they came back from 26 points down to shock Meralco, 115-110, in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, March 5.

The former NBA player dropped 57 points and 19 rebounds in a breathtaking performance that kept the playoffs-bound Beermen, who improved to 7-4, in the running for a twice-to-beat quarterfinal bonus.

Given the green light to shoot, Muhammad waxed hot for 21 fourth-quarter points, including 4 clutch points in the last 30 seconds as San Miguel wrapped up the elimination with back-to-back victories.

The Bolts still held a 110-109 lead with a minute left until Muhammad secured an offensive rebound off his own miss at the line and scored the go-ahead putback.

Chris Ross then forced a turnover in the next play, paving the way for Muhammad to seal the win with a pair of foul shots, 113-110, as Chris Newsome and Allein Maliksi missed their game-tying triples for Meralco.

“For us, it looked like a miracle against Meralco … we thought that it was impossible. But like I always said, miracles happen every second,” said Beermen head coach Leo Austria in a mix of Filipino and English.

A blowout was in the works as Meralco enjoyed its largest lead of the game at 72-46 off a Chris Banchero layup at the start of the third quarter.

But Muhammad had other plans, unloading 24 big points in the third period to pull San Miguel within single digits, 83-92, with a quarter left to play.

Muhammad continued his offensive onslaught in the final salvo as he scattered 15 points in a 17-6 run, including the go-ahead and-one play, as the Beermen nailed a 100-98 lead with 8:40 minutes remaining.

The Bolts regained the upper hand and even led 108-102, but their inability to protect leads once again manifested and San Miguel took advantage.

Muhammad tallied 45 points in the last two quarters as he singlehandedly outscored Meralco, which managed just 40 points in the entire second half, en route to highest scoring output in a PBA game in nearly six years.

His 57 points, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon, are the most since San Miguel import Tyler Wilkerson had 58 and NLEX reinforcement Al Thornton netted 69 in a 131-127 triple overtime win by the Beermen in April 2016.

June Mar Fajardo finished with 16 points, Vic Manuel 13, and Marcio Lassiter 10.

Despite going scoreless in 30 minutes, Ross still made his presence felt with 6 assists, 4 steals, and back-to-back defensive stops against Meralco import Tony Bishop in the final minute.

Bishop delivered 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals in the loss, which saw the Bolts slide to fourth with a 6-4 record.

The Scores

San Miguel 115 – Muhammad 57, Fajardo 16, Manuel 13, Lassiter 10, Romeo 9, Perez 6, Tautuaa 4, Brondial 0, Ross 0, Cruz 0.

Meralco 110 – Bishop 29, Quinto 18, Maliksi 16, Banchero 13, Black 13, Almazan 9, Hugnatan 7, Newsome 5, Hodge 0. 

Quarters: 28-36, 46-70, 83-92, 115-110. 

– Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.