A win, finally
San Miguel Beer finally looked like the tournament toughies it was pegged to be, thanks to the guy who helped them earn that label in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Beermen rode on a strong second half to overwhelm the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 106-94, with rookie Christian Standhardinger coming up with a strong performance at Smart Araneta Coliseum to get the job done Wednesday night.
“I’m just happy we finally got a win and now we can begin moving forward,” said Standhardinger, who finished with 18 points and seven rebounds while hitting seven out of 11 shots from the field.
The powerhouse Beermen have had a puzzling start to the tournament where they had been tagged overwhelming favorites because of the arrival of Standhardinger but looked headed to yet another loss after a lackluster first half.
“At the break, we just said that we had to go hard and that’s what we did and we got our first victory,” Standahrdinger said. “Hopefully, there’s more to come.”
Earlier, the NLEX Road Warriors activated their survival instincts to keep themselves running.
The Road Warriors endured the absence of rookie guard Kiefer Ravena, banking on a late run to turn back Blackwater Elite, 93-89.
“Our focus now is moving on without Kiefer. For the meantime, we’re trying to get something out from everybody,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, whose wards broke out of a slump to chalk up only their second victory in six games.
Ravena was suspended by world basketball body Fiba for 18 months after testing positive for banned substances in a random drug test on Feb. 25 when Gilas Pilipinas defeated Japan during the Fiba World Asian qualifiers.
Ravena’s suspension and the absence of Kevin Alas, who is recovering from a torn ACL and has been on the injury list since the conference started, has left the NLEX guard rotation shorthanded.
“We’ll try to survive as long as we can. It’s really difficult without them. We’ll see how we can salvage the situation,” said Guiao.
They temporarily found a savior in Alex Mallari, who came through after NLEX fell precariously behind by nine points late in the game as well as Arnett Moultrie, who grabbed the opportunity to show his worth.
Mallari knocked down an open three that punctuated the Road Warriors’ sizzling 13-0 windup and capped his heroics with a three-point play off a fastbreak with 9.7 seconds left.
Moultrie took advantage of a relaxed Elite, scoring six straight points during the run.