Westports pips San Mig cagers

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Dragons’ Patrick Cabahug. Photo from Asean Basketball League website.

Wesports Malaysia’s two new recruits made a quick impact as the Dragons snapped a four-game skid with an 82-76 triumph over San Miguel Beer in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) yesterday at Maba Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

Sammy Monroe debuted with 32 points and Filipino-American Justin Melton added 19 markers to lead the Dragons in spoiling the visiting Beermen’s bid to grab solo second.

The upset loss underscored again the “seesaw season” San Miguel coach Leo Austria described as his Beermen—who have yet to win back-to-back games this season—slipped to third with a 3-3 record.

Monroe, a former PBA import who replaced the injured Cedric Bozeman, accounted for six of Malaysia’s 11 triples, the last coming in midway in the fourth that gave the Dragons a 69-61 cushion.

Melton, who recently suited up for the Smart Gilas Pilipinas cadet team, also teamed up with Monroe in quelling the Beermen’s late rally behind Gabe Freeman and Chris Banchero.

“They stepped up to the challenge,” Malaysia’s Filipino coach Ariel Vanguardia said after his Dragons improved to fourth at 3-4. “We just decided to forget about those four losses. We focused on getting all those loose balls and rebounds and finishing the job.”

Freeman, who played through a strained knee, paced the Beermen with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Banchero finished with 20 markers.

The Beermen looked set to pull ahead after turning a 38-39 halftime deficit into a 51-45 advantage following a run fueled by Leo Avenido and Brian Williams.

But Malaysia closed out the third period with a 14-5 surge as Filipino import Patrick Cabahug also started hitting his shots to help the Dragons wrest the lead at 59-56.

By the fourth quarter, the Dragons stayed in full control with Monroe and Melton towing them to a 79-70 edge going into the final minute.  Jasmine W. Payo

The scores:

WESTPORTS MALAYSIA 82—Monroe 32, Melton 19, Edwards 13, Cabahug 10, Tautuaa 8, Chee 0, Loh 0, Ooi 0, Kuppusamy 0.

SAN MIGUEL BEER 76—Freeman 22, Banchero 20, Williams 12, Avenido 10, Taulava 5, Menk 4, Rizada 0, Luanzon 0, Acuna 0, Hubalde 0.

Quarters: 15-19, 39-38, 59-56, 82-76

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