PBA Philippine Cup

Title favorite San Miguel taking it slow after rousing PH Cup opener

Delfin Dioquino

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Title favorite San Miguel taking it slow after rousing PH Cup opener

KRAKEN. June Mar Fajardo in action for the San Miguel Beermen in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

PBA Images

The goal is to complete a championship sweep for the PBA season, but the San Miguel Beermen refuse to get ahead of themselves

MANILA, Philippines – With the way San Miguel opened its campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup, it should not be a surprise if the Beermen reach the last dance again.

The defending champions, however, refuse to get ahead of themselves.

“We just do it ladder by ladder. This eliminations is the start of our ladder. As of now, we’re just thinking game by game,” said San Miguel head coach Jorge Gallent.

Flaunting their vaunted depth, the Beermen picked struggling Rain or Shine apart and coasted to a convincing 109-97 win at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, March 15, for a splendid start in their title-retention bid.

Jericho Cruz came off the bench and churned out 20 points and 4 rebounds, showing the way in the victory that saw San Miguel be all business a month after ruling the Commissioner’s Cup.

Cruz scattered 13 points in the middle quarters as the Beermen turned a slim 24-22 lead at the end of the opening period to a commanding 91-73 advantage going into the final salvo.

That lead grew to its biggest at 107-87 off a nifty layup by Terrence Romeo, who put up 13 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals in his first game back after missing the last four games of the Commissioner’s Cup finals due to an ankle injury.

Also back in action after sitting out Gilas Pilipinas’ first window campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, June Mar Fajardo netted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds with 2 blocks in just 25 minutes off the bench.

Fajardo, the only seven-time MVP of the league, has been put under a minutes restriction as he continues to regain his top form following a calf injury.

Marcio Lassiter went a near-perfect 5-of-6 from three-point land to finish with 17 points, while Don Trollano chimed in 16 points and 9 rebounds.

“They know what this game meant. It is good to restart on a winning note,” said Gallent.

Santi Santillan fired 31 points to go with 14 rebounds, but his pair of career-high marks were not enough for the Elasto Painters to crack the winning column as they absorbed their fourth straight loss to start the conference.

Rain or Shine has yet to beat San Miguel this season as it lost twice in the Commissioner’s Cup, first in the elimination round and second in the quarterfinals.

Beau Belga posted 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals for the Elasto Painters, who played without injured big man Keith Datu (knee).

The Scores

San Miguel 109 – Cruz 20, Lassiter 17, Trollano 16, Fajardo 15, Romeo 13, Tautuaa 7, Perez 7, Teng 6, Brondial 5, Enciso 3, Ross 0, Manuel 0.

Rain or Shine 97 – Santillan 31, Belga 18, Clarito 18, Caracut 9, Mamuyac 9, Belo 5, Nocum 3, Nocum 2, Demusis 2, Concepcion 0, Norwood 0, Asistio 0.

Quarters: 24-22, 56-45, 91-73, 109-97.

– Rappler.com

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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.