Beermen boost playoff bid after close shave
For a team on a desperate mission to cram for wins, San Miguel Beer sure looked lethargic at the start of its PBA Commissioner’s Cup Petron Saturday Special match against Rain or Shine in Cagayan de Oro City.
Small wonder why relief was the overriding feeling for Beermen coach Leo Austria after his squad’s 89-87 at Xavier University Gym.
“We’re so lucky that we’re able to escape from their claws,” Austria said after his team notched its fifth win in 10 games to not only improve its chances of a hassle-free trip to the playoffs but also sit outside the bottom two among the qualifiers.
Reigning five-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and import Chris McCullough came out strong in the stretch as the Beermen snared the third of four wins they need to collect to avoid playoff complications.
San Miguel Beer was also looking to stay out of the seventh and eighth playoff spots, which would mean matchups against the top two squads of the tournament—both of whom will have twice-to-beat protection in the quarterfinals.
That’s where Rain or Shine sits right now—seventh place—after falling to 5-6.
“From the start, I’ve already felt that this was going to be an exciting game because both teams are in dire need of a W,” Austria added in an interview streamed by the league’s social media team.
Fajardo rose for a two-handed jam with over a minute to go, highlighting his 25 points and 13 rebounds. McCullough, who didn’t quite have an efficient outing, still managed to chalk up 24 points and 12 boards.