With its pride pricked the last time out, San Miguel Beer showed up with complete focus and willingness to play defense on Sunday night and re-establish itself as a yardstick for PBA Philippine Cup champions.
The four-time defending champion broke away from Barangay Ginebra in the third quarter and thwarted a mighty finishing kick by the Gin Kings to prevail, 99-91, and get back on the winning track at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
“They showed that they have pride in them,” San Miguel coach Leo Austria said in Filipino when asked about the turnaround in form compared to Friday when they suffered a 118-124 loss at the hands of Columbian.
Christian Standhardinger tallied 26 points and Chris Ross and Von Pessumal fired 12 and 10, respectively, in the third quarter breakaway that had the Beermen leading by as much as 23 that not even Ginebra’s vaunted never-say-die spirit could overhaul.
San Miguel caught Ginebra at 1-1.
Earlier, NorthPort rolled to its best Philippine Cup start by bringing down NLEX, 95-90.
“While the other teams were still sleeping, we were already having our training camp,” coach Pido Jarencio said in Filipino after his Batang Pier nailed the big shots at the crunch to rise to 2-0 and a share the lead with idle Phoenix.
Austria credited his players’ willingness to play defense this time as they allowed just three players to score in twin digits for Ginebra, with LA Tenorio leading the way with 24.
“I am so happy because we had some sleepless nights [after the Columbian loss],” Austria said. “I have been telling the players that there are no easy wins in this league.”
Ross finished with 22, Marcio Lassiter chipped in 16.
San Miguel also sat out the injured Terrence Romeo and got just 10 points from reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
Meanwhile, the PBA Press Corps will hold its 25th Annual Awards Night on Monday at Novotel Manila Araneta Center. A total of 13 awards will be handed out.
Highlight of the presentation is the bestowing of the Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan Coach of the Year trophy to Magnolia coach Chito Victolero who led the Hotshots to the season-ending Governors’ Cup title.
NORTHPORT 95—Anthony 22, Tautuaa 18, Bolick 14, Pringle 11, Taha 9, Elorde 8, Arana 4, Guinto 3, Flores 2, Lanete 2, Grey 2, Gabayni 0, Sollano 0.
NLEX 90—Erram 19, Quinahan 18, Galanza 11, Paniamogan 10, Magat 8, Tallo 7, Fonacier 5, Baguio 4, Ighalo 2, Alas 2, Soyud 2, Porter 2, Taulava 0, Rios 0.
Quarters: 25-22; 48-46; 71-70; 95-90
SAN MIGUEL 99—Standhardinger 26, Ross 22, Lassiter 16, Pessumal 13, Fajardo 10, Santos 6, Nabong 6, Tubid 0, Zamar 0.
GINEBRA 91—Tenorio 24, Aguilar 20, Slaughter 11, Thompson 9, Devance 6, Teodoro 6, Dela Cruz 4, Ferrer 4, Caguioa 3, Mariano 2, Mercado 2.
Quarters: 20-17; 44-35; 78-57; 99-91
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