Beermen hold off Hotshots in PBA Finals opener

Starting hot and finishing with poise, Beermen hold off Hotshots

/ 05:25 AM February 03, 2024

PBA Finals San Miguel Beermen June Mar Fajardo

June Mar Fajardo and the San Miguel Beermen in the PBA Finals Game 1. –MARLO CUETO/

For the 10th straight time, San Miguel Beer showed that the term coach Jorge Gallent coined as “Death 15” to describe his squad was no gimmick.

But if the way the Beermen closed out Game 1 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series against Magnolia is considered—where they almost saw a gigantic lead disappear before holding on for a 103-95 win at SM Mall of Asia Arena—San Miguel should worry of potential cracks in its armor.


“When you play a tough team like Magnolia, you have to play 48 minutes of fine basketball,” Gallent said after Friday’s opening act for the championship. “If you don’t play 48 minutes, this is what’s going to happen.”


READ: PBA Finals: Magnolia’s ‘Family’ vs San Miguel’s ‘Death 15’

San Miguel showed its true dominance in staying unbeaten with import Bennie Boatwright, leading by 20 points early as many were already waiting for the final score to be settled.

But Magnolia, weary after a hard-fought semifinal series with Phoenix, made a surprise turnaround in the closing stages behind an unheralded group anchored by seldom-used guys like Russell Escoto, Joseph Eriobu and Jed Mendoza, as the deficit was cut to five with still over a minute to play.

“It feels good that we didn’t panic,” said Gallent. “The players were composed and they know how to win, so lucky for me.”

Gallent will be the first guy to say that San Miguel won’t rely on luck alone come Sunday when the Beermen eye a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven affair.

Second-quarter surge

PBA Finals Magnolia Hotshots San Miguel Beermen

San Miguel’s CJ Perez in Game 1 of the PBA Finals against Magnolia Hotshots. –MARLO CUETO/

Majority of the contest, however, was a true exhibition of how the Beermen rose from early injuries and a mini slump to reach the title stage.

And how dominant it can be playing in full force.


A second-quarter surge virtually ended the competitive phase of the match, with long-time San Miguel shooter Marcio Lassiter hitting from long range and Boatwright displaying why he has not lost in previous seven appearances as Ivan Aska’s replacement.

The Beermen racked up 41 points in the second quarter, a cardinal sin for the Chito Victolero-coached Magnolia side that relies heavily on defense. San Miguel headed to the halftime break ahead, 61-44.

Boatwright had 28 points and 16 rebounds to lead the San Miguel attack while CJ Perez turned in 19 points and three steals with Lassiter adding 16.

Perez’s performance epitomized his status as a potential frontrunner for the Best Player of the Conference award, even if he’s second in the statistical points derby behind Christian Standhardinger of the already-eliminated Barangay Ginebra team.

Magnolia import Tyler Bey scored 12 of his 28 points in the first quarter when the game was tight.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Mark Barroca was the only other Hotshot in double figures with 16 as the team’s other stars like Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon and the foul-prone Calvin Abueva dealt with the after-effects of their tight semifinal series with the Fuel Masters.

TAGS: Magnolia, PBA, San Miguel Beer

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.