San Miguel reclaims lead
Playing steadier when the game was truly on the line, San Miguel Beer bounced back from its first loss of the season to reclaim the solo lead in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations.
Chico Lanete hit the triple that climaxed what was a game-long fightback by the Beermen with 1:29 left as San Miguel scored a 77-76 nipping of Magnolia on Sunday night at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
June Mar Fajardo hit three free throws inside the final 56.3 seconds and the Beermen pounced on numerous misses by the Hotshots to improve to 6-1 and put behind a bitter 100-96 loss to Barangay Ginebra last Sunday.
It was the first loss in five games and the second in eight overall for the Hotshots, who fell into a second-place tie with Alaska, which gutted out a 105-98 win over GlobalPort in the first game.
The Aces rallied from 13 points down in the third quarter to force extension before Vic Manuel scored seven of Alaska’s last nine points that keyed their sixth straight win.
Alaska rose to 6-2 overall and dealt the Batang Pier their fourth loss in seven games as the Aces remained in pursuit of the leaders with jockeying for the top two spots in the playoffs still a wide open affair.
Manuel finished with a game-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds coming off the bench.
Guards JV Casio and Chris Banchero scored 16 apiece, with Casio making 5-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc.
Calvin Abueva completed a double-double with 12 points and the same number of boards as the former Rookie of the Year celebrated his 30th birthday in style.
“We’re so fortunate to come away with this,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton as Alaska battled back from 62-75 in the third period. “Hats off to the players. They didn’t give up.”
The Aces stormed back in the payoff period, capped by an Abueva pass to Kevin Racal for an undergoal stab that made it 92-91 with 61 seconds to go.—WITH REPORTS FROM RANDOLPH B. LEONGSON, INQUIRER.NET
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.