The 2018 Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals is now in sight for San Miguel, as the Beermen rolled over the struggling NLEX Road Warriors, 125-114, Saturday evening at the Calasiao Sports Complex in Pangasinan.
The defending conference champions have moved a win away from the next round, as they hiked up their card to 5-4. The Road Warriors, on the other hand, absorbed their fourth straight loss and are now at 2-8.
NLEX are now out of playoff contention
The starters were in their element in the victory, with reigning, four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo at the forefront with 30 points on 54 percent shooting from the floor, together with 13 rebounds and a block.
Marcio Lassiter erupted for 26 points on an excellent 58 percent clip, highlighted by six three-pointers. The six-foot-two shooting guard also stuffed the stat sheet with two rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Lassiter was responsible for SMB’s third quarter breakaway. He scored 15 of his total output in the said period alone to give the Beermen a 97-85 lead heading into the fourth quarter – a lead which they would never relinquish.
San Miguel’s lead ballooned to as huge as 15 points, 105-90, after an Arwind Santos reverse lay-up with 8:51 remaining in the final frame. Santos came off the bench and only had four points, six rebounds, and two assists.
New face Kelly Nabong made his debut for San Miguel and had two points. SMB got the bruiser in a trade with the GlobalPort Batang Pier this past Thursday, where they handed over Gabby Espinas and a 2020 second round pick.
Import Renaldo Balkman chimed in 25 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, and four steals in the win. Alex Cabagnot provided 17 points, while Chris Ross was two dimes short of a double-double with 12 markers and eight feeds.
The Road Warriors’ loss wasted the efforts of reinforcement Arnett Moultrie. The former Philadelphia 76ers forward finished with 43 points on 16-of-27 shooting, on top of 14 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
The only support Moultrie got came from, surprisingly, Asi Taulava. The 45-year-old finished with 18 points – spiked by five triples – along with nine rebounds in over 17 minutes. Taulava was just averaging 2.6 minutes prior to Saturday.
Both teams will play again on July 4, Wednesday, after the league’s break for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. The Beermen will play the Blackwater Elite at 4:30 PM, and the Road Warriors will take on the Magnolia Hotshots at 7:00 PM.
San Miguel 125 – Fajardo 30, Lassiter 26, Balkman 25, Cabagnot 17, Ross 12, Heruela 4, Santos 4, Rosser 3, Mamaril 2, Nabong 2, Pessumal 0.
NLEX 114 – Moultrie 43, Taulava 18, Tiongson 8, Baguio 7, Ighalo 6, Quinahan 6, Tallo 6, Uyloan 5, Rios 5, Soyud 5, Buenafe 3, Gotladera 2, Marcelo 0.
Quarterscores: 31-34, 65-55, 97-85, 125-114.