PBA Governors' Cup

Vic Manuel comes up clutch over old Phoenix team as San Miguel enters top 4

JR Isaga
Vic Manuel comes up clutch over old Phoenix team as San Miguel enters top 4

MUSCLE MAN. San Miguel's Vic Manuel comes up clutch against his old team Phoenix Super LPG.

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San Miguel rides a pivotal 15-0 run in the second quarter to keep Phoenix at bay for its second straight win

The San Miguel Beermen continued their winning run through the 2022 PBA Governors’ Cup as they outgunned the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 104-99, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City on Wednesday, February 23.

Vic Manuel led the San Miguel locals in scoring with 22 points and 9 rebounds, and flexed his strength in the clutch after outhustling Phoenix import Dominique Sutton for a game-winning putback layup, 102-94, with 38 seconds left.

The “Muscle Man” then further secured the win against his old team with two final free throws at the 25-second mark for the 104-96 gap.

With the win, the mighty Beermen cracked the top four in the standings, tied at 5-3 with the Alaska Aces. Meanwhile, the Fuel Masters sunk to joint sixth place with the TNT Tropang Giga at 4-4, and are now on a two-game losing streak.

Phoenix got off to a hot start, and led San Miguel, 37-31, with over nine minutes left in the second quarter.

However, the Beermen cranked up their offense and rallied past the Fuel Masters with a pivotal 15-0 run, capped by a Simon Enciso layup at the 2:06 mark. At the next possession, Sutton finally sank a layup to break a seven-minute streak without a single field goal from the suddenly frigid Phoenix side.

Although the Fuel Masters stayed well within striking distance for a majority of the second half, the Beermen kept them at bay with timely responses, and peaked with a 12-point lead, 97-85, with 3:18 left in the final frame.

While Phoenix closed the gap to five, 94-99, in the final 1:22 of regulation, Manuel and fellow veteran Chris Ross made sure that was as near as their foes would go in the endgame.

“We’ve had a roller-coaster ride. We lost our first two games, then we won three straight, lost again, and won two straight,” said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria in Filipino after the game.

“But so far, so good for us in the resumption of this tournament. We’re so excited because the team’s playing really well in practice, and everyone is stepping up. You can see the body language of the players that they are really determined to play good basketball.”

Amid rumors of his looming replacement, San Miguel import Orlando Johnson still led the win with 23 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal in nearly 47 minutes of action. Meanwhile, six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo powered the bench with a 13-marker, 15-board double-double.

Wright led all scorers in the tough loss with 24 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block, while Sutton and Jason Perkins added 20 markers apiece.

San Miguel can keep its winning streak going by handing the Magnolia Hotshots their first loss on Sunday, February 27, 6:30 pm, still at Ynares Antipolo.

Meanwhile, Phoenix can snap its skid on Saturday, February 26, 6:30 pm, against the win-seeking NorthPort Batang Pier.

The Scores

San Miguel 104 – Johnson 23, Manuel 22, Lassiter 18, Fajardo 13, Perez 9, Romeo 7, Ross 6, Tautuaa 3, Enciso 2, Brondial 0.

Phoenix 99 – Wright 24, Sutton 20, Perkins 20, Jazul 9, Chua 8, Garcia 6, Pascual 4, Robles 4, Manganti 2, Demusis 2, Rios 0.

Quarters: 25-30, 49-47, 79-71, 104-99.

– Rappler.com