The defending champions finally showed what their potent line-up can bring to the table.
Down for the majority of the game, the San Miguel Beermen pulled away in the closing minutes and left the Phoenix Fuel Masters behind, 106-94, en route to their first victory in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup, Wednesday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen improved to 1-3, while the Fuel Masters dropped to an even 3-3 slate, similar to the Columbian Dyip and the GlobalPort Batang Pier.
Now in his second game, import Renaldo Balkman top-billed San Miguel with 35 points along with 17 rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and two steals. Christian Standhardinger made 18 markers and seven boards.
“We’re lucky we’re able to snatch this game, a very important game for us,” said coach Leo Austria. “The first half we’re struggling. Mabuti na lang after the break, we realized na this is a very important game so nag-step up [mga] players.”
Down 86-88 with 4:27 to go in the final frame, SMB turned up on offense all of a sudden, unloading a 17-1 blitzkrieg — ended by an Arwind Santos dunk — to put the Fuel Masters away for good, 103-89, with 44 seconds left to play.
Santos finished with 13 points. Alec Cabagnot had 13 points as well, along with seven assists and six rebounds. Marcio Lassiter chimed in 12 markers spiked by three triples, with three boards, three dimes, and three steals.
June Mar Fajardo was just a point away from a double-double, finishing with nine points and 13 rebounds. The reigning, four-time league Most Valuable Player also produced four assists and two blocks.
“I think slowly nakukuha na namin ang right combination para sa team namin,” praised Austria.
Eugene Phelps led Phoenix with 33 points, 17 rebounds, and eight assists. Matthew Wright supplied 17 points and seven rebounds, while point guard RJ Jazul chipped in 10 markers on a 40 percent-shooting clip.
The Beermen will battle the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in a titanic clash on Sunday, June 3, 6:45 PM at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, while the Fuel Masters will take on the Meralco Bolts on June 8, Friday, 7:00 PM still at the Big Dome.
San Miguel 106 – Balkman 35, Standhardinger 18, Cabagnot 13, Santos 13, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 9, Ross 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Lanete 0, Heruela 0
Phoenix 94 – Phelps 33, Wright 17, Jazul 10, Chua 8, Perkins 8, Wilson 6, Kramer 6, Chan 4, Mendoza 2, Revilla 0, Intal 0
Quarterscores: 17-18, 37-49, 70-72, 106-94
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