Harsh words spoken, elbows thrown and four players ejected. The rivalry between two flagship franchises heated up, with San Miguel emerging from the scrap victorious.
The Beermen survived the loss of its two stars by leaning heavily on Renaldo Balkman in a 99-94 victory over the TNT KaTropa in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup Petron Saturday Special at Mall of Asia Arena.
Renaldo Balkman had 43 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks, and four assists as the Beermen notched their fourth win in five games after opening the tournament with three straight losses.
“This was a badly needed win and thankfully we were able to survive TNT,” said San Miguel head coach Leo Austria. “They (the KaTropa) know the importance of this game and they want to kick us out because if we’re out of the playoffs, the other teams will have a chance to win the championship.”
The Beermen lost stars Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter due to heated confrontations during the game. Lassiter and TNT star Terrence Romeo exchanged words and were slapped with technicals while Santos got into a loose ball scuffle with TNT workhorse Anthony Semerad. Romeo and Semerad were also ejected.
Meanwhile, a little challenge by coach Caloy Garcia snapped Rain or Shine out of its defensive slump as the Elasto Painters holstered hot-shooting Phoenix marksman Jeff Chan’s guns to nip the Fuel Masters, 108-106, in the earlier game.
“Jeff and Eugene Phelps were torching us in the first half,” Garcia said. “I told them that they should be ashamed of themselves if we’re going to get beaten up by just two players.”
After cooling Chan and Phelps, the Painters found their own groove and slowly inched their way from 19 points down before James Yap knocked down a floater in the lane and a three-pointer that change the game’s direction halfway through the fourth.
The win put Rain or Shine back on top with a 9-1 card as it moved closer to a twice-to-beat bonus in the playoffs.
Chan, who was traded to Phoenix from Rain or Shine last season, sizzled with 23 of his 26 points in the first half, including seven threes that helped the Fuel Masters speed ahead early.
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