SMB stays unscathed, escapes NLEX
San Miguel shrugged off a listless first half and fought off a tough NLEX crew, 109-98, to stay unbeaten in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Friday at Cuneta Astrodome.
Arwind Santos was all over the court for the Beermen, doing it all for his squad with 26 points on 5-of-12 shooting from three, to go with 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks.
June Mar Fajardo was also instrumental in the win, unloading 11 of his 25 markers in the third quarter comeback after San Miguel battled back from a nine-point halftime deficit, while also hauling down 16 boards, two dimes, a steal, and a block.
After the Road Warriors took a 58-49 lead at the halftime break, the real Beermen came out to play in the third quarter as it went to Fajardo and set up the see-saw battle.
Tensions arose in the final five minutes of the game after Michael Miranda got ejected for kicking Chris Ross, who was also thrown out after engaging in a verbal altercation with NLEX coach Yeng Guiao with 1:46 to play.
Alex Cabagnot, who also corralled 14 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds in the win, and Santos delivered the coup de grace as San Miguel stayed on top of the standings at 4-0.
Marcio Lassiter also shot 3-of-8 from threes to nab 14 markers to go with his four boards and four dimes.
As elated as coach Leo Austria is for the win, he didn’t expect the game to come easy for the Beermen given the heightened sense of urgency for NLEX, which has now lost its last three assignments.
“With NLEX losing their last two games, we knew they will come out hard and it happened. They refused to lose because of their pride and experience. I knew from the start that this will be an exciting game even though in the last few minutes, we’re leading in double figures. But I’m happy to see my players persevere and get this win,” he said.
Second overall pick Kiefer Ravena continued to impress in this duel against famed backcourt defenders, finishing with 15 points, six assists, and three rebounds.
Alex Mallari, JR Quiñahan, and Raul Soyud had 12 in the losing effort as the Road Warriors fell to 2-3.
SAN MIGUEL 109 — Santos 26, Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 14, Pessumal 10, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, De Ocampo 4, Ross 4, Heruela 2, Mamaril 2, Semerad 2.
NLEX 98 — Ravena 15, Mallari 12, Quiñahan 12, Soyud 12, Miranda 10, Tiongson 8, Fonacier 6, Uyloan 6, Al-Hussaini 5, Alas 5, Taulava 3, Baguio 2, Gotladera 2.
Quarters: 31-24, 49-58, 74-74, 109-98.