The San Miguel Beermen were in their element, putting up a dominant showing to down the Alaska Aces, 92-79, for a 1-0 lead in their 2018 Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series, Saturday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
This is now the Beermen’s third straight win in the mid-season joust’s playoffs. Moreover, San Miguel now have a five-game playoff winning streak over Alaska, which traces back from the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals.
“We want to win the first game to dictate the tempo for them to think hard for adjustments,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria. “But I know Alaska will do more because that’s not their game. We’re expecting some more from them.”
Six Beermen pumped double figures in the win, with June Mar Fajardo in front with 17 points along with nine rebounds. Alex Cabagnot chipped in 15 points, while birthday celebrant Renaldo Balkman had 13 points and 11 boards.
But Kelly Nabong and Christian Standhardinger had the most commendable contributions, who missed four of his the Beermen’s last five games of the eliminations due to knee issues.
Standhardinger set the tone early in the second frame through his point-blank shots, and a lay-up with 9:47 in the said quarter gave San Miguel their first double-digit lead, 34-24. He scored his nine points in that frame alone.
Nabong, on the other hand, brought impact in the third canto. When the Aces were able to trim the Beermen’s 19-point lead to just nine twice, the 6-foot-5 bruiser sank back-to-back jumpers to restore order, 75-63, with 44 ticks left.
Nabong finished with 11 points.
“I’m happy for some of the players especially Nabong and Christian,” lauded Austria. “They were able to provide the quality minutes not only on defense but offensively they contributed a lot. I think that’s the time na lumayo kami.”
Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos chipped in 12 markers apiece in the win.
The Aces’ loss wasted the efforts of Diamon Simpson, as the 6-foot-6 import unloaded 31 points and 24 rebounds with five steals, three blocks, and two assists in the 43 minutes and 30 seconds he graced the floor.
Vic Manuel’s streak of scoring 20 points has come to an end at 11. The BPC frontrunner finished with 16 points and six rebounds in nearly 30 minutes of playing time to provide the lone support to their foreign reinforcement.
Game Two is on Monday, July 16, 7:00 PM at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
San Miguel 92 – Fajardo 17, Cabagnot 15, Balkman 13, Lassiter 12, Santos 12, Nabong 11, Standhardinger 9, Ross 3, Heruela 0.
Alaska 79 – Simpson 31, Manuel 16, Enciso 7, Racal 7, Casio 6, Teng 4, Exciminiano 4, Thoss 2, Cruz 2, Pascual 0, Baclao 0, Galliguez 0.
Quarterscores: 25-24, 52-41, 75-65, 92-79.
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