Against import-less foe, San Miguel Beer finally notches victory by slipping past NorthPort
San Miguel Beer escaped NorthPort by skin of its teeth, taking home a much-needed 91-88 breakthrough victory on Sunday during the PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Beermen dodged a massive bullet, almost giving up a 27-point cushion against a Batang Pier squad playing without import Cameron Forte, who sat the game out due to a hamstring injury.
“We’re now OK. [The] two losses were a wake-up call for us. After a lengthy talk with the team, they responded,” said coach Leo Austria, whose charges arrested a horrendous 0-2 start in the import-flavored showcase.
CJ Perez, the young spitfire guard the club acquired before the season, starred with 15 points and seven rebounds, in his first start in the conference.
“I’ve been struggling for two games. I guess I just focused on myself and on how to help the team,” he said.
Robert Bolick and Jamie Malonzo muffed two triples that would’ve forged an extra session and gifted Arwind Santos a victory against the very club that shipped him out after multiple championship stints, including a historic five-year stranglehold of the PBA’s crown jewel, the Philippine Cup.
The thriller stole some of the spotlight from the debut of defending champion Barangay Ginebra, which defeated Alaska, 80-77, in the second game.
San Miguel reinforcement Brandon Brown led the way with 24 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, helping put the finishing touches by way of a pair of charities.
June Mar Fajardo turned in 15 points, while Marcio Lassiter had 12 built on deadly long-distance shooting. Vic Manuel added 10 off the bench.
Bolick had 24, Santos 23, while Malonzo added 22 in a gallant stand that highlighted the might of the Batang Pier’s all-Filipino crew.
Coach Pido Jarencio told the Inquirer that Forte, who was solid in NorthPort’s previous game, hurt his hamstring.
“This gives us confidence going into the next game,” said Austria, who will have rebuilding Blackwater as his team’s next opponent on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.