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GATHERING STEAM

San Miguel sustains show of championship form

/ 05:25 AM July 29, 2021

June Mar Fajardo (right) comes up with his most impressive game since returning from a shin injury. —PHOTO FROM PBA IMAGES

San Miguel Beer continued to gather steam for what it sees as a tough stretch in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations as the Beermen tore Blackwater apart, 99-80, for their third straight win at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos churned out double-doubles in leading the Beermen, who rose to 3-1 and are starting to show back the form that enabled them a stranglehold of the league’s most prestigious crown.

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In his best game since returning from a shin injury, Fajardo scored 16 points and hauled down 11 rebounds, while Santos collected 10 and 12 along with five assists as San Miguel braced for its clash with defending champion and archrival Barangay Ginebra on Sunday.

Simon Enciso scattered a game-high 25 points anchored on seven three-pointers, but Blackwater could not reprise what it did so well in the second quarter and thus absorbed a fourth loss in as many starts that pushed the Bossing deeper in the cellar.

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Alaska later snapped a two-game slide and dealt the Rain or Shine franchise its worst beating in a 74-48 win. The Aces rose to 2-2 and handed the Elasto Painters their first loss in four games. Rain or Shine lost a share of the lead after being in the losing end of the lowest scoring game since Petron tripped defunct Shopinas, 60-53, in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup.

“I want to commend the guys for not being too low after losing two [straight] games,” Alaska coach Jeffrey Cariaso said. The Painters’ 48 points were the second-lowest total all-time behind disbanded Formula Shell’s 49 in the 2000 All-Filipino conference.

Breakaway win

Despite his team posting a couple of 25-point spreads in the fourth quarter, coach Leo Austria said that fashioning out the win was not as easy as it looked.

“We knew from the start this will not be an easy game for us. You all saw it in the first half,” said Austria, referring to the instance when his team’s 12-point lead got easily razed by the Bossing.

“I know Blackwater is really trying hard to exert effort and they showed it this afternoon,” added Austria. “Good thing our veterans stepped up.”

Foremost among those was Alex Cabagnot, who laced his 12-point performance with nine in the third period that stretched San Miguel’s lead from 39-38 at halftime to as huge as 69-51.

Austria opted to rest his starters to start the fourth period and there was no need for any of them to be fielded back as the Beermen’s relievers, led by Paul Zamar and Von Pessumal, joined hands to stretch their lead to 82-57 and 88-63.

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The win could be costly, though, as Mo Tautuaa suffered a right shoulder injury and had to leave the game for good with still 1:15 left.

“Our PT (physical therapist) will assess [his injury],” said Austria. “We need Mo against Ginebra because of their big men.” —REPORTS FROM PBA.PH

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TAGS: GINEBRA, PBA Philippine Cup, San Miguel Beer
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