SMB whips NLEX
San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria had little to worry about after all.
Coming off a long break Austria couldn’t use effectively, the Beermen shook off a bad start before routing NLEX, 114-108 for the perfect warm-up to a critical phase of their elimination round schedule in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Charles Rhodes scored 37 points and had 19 rebounds and Chris Ross missed a triple double by just three boards after
15 points and 11 assists as the Beermen led by as much as 24 at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay
before tapering off a bit in the stretch and rising to 6-1.
The win kept the Beermen well on track of a top two finish—and a twice-to-beat incentive in the first round of the playoffs—as they enter a tough phase of their schedule with matches against Barangay Ginebra and Alaska coming up.
Defending champion Rain or Shine scored a 118-112 decision of Barangay Ginebra later in the night that snapped the Gin Kings’ five-game winning streak.
New import Duke Crews scored 28 points and had 22 rebounds for the Elasto Painters, who rose to 5-4 with their first win in the last three games.
The Gin Kings slipped to 5-2, failing to keep in step with the Beermen, who couldn’t get untracked as quickly as their coach wanted.
“We were sluggish in the first quarter,” Austria said after getting all starters and a total of six men in double digits, counting June Mar Fajardo. “I was really worried coming into this game because of our long layoff.”
Fajardo suited up despite coming from national team duty just the night before and contributed 12 points in a 30-minute stint.
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