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Alex Cabagnot, June Mar Fajardo help San Miguel escape Meralco


It was a tough test indeed for San Miguel, but the Beermen still managed to ace it, as they overcame the wily Meralco Bolts, 103-97, to go 2-0 in the 2018 Philippine Cup Wednesday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

“This is really a tough test for us,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria. “If you remember the first game with Blackwater, they were down by 12 or 14 points and all of a sudden in the second half, they were able to come back and it happened tonight.

“It’s a good lesson for us and it’s a good test dahil if you’re up against a team coached by a great coach in coach Norman [Black], you cannot rest until the buzzer sounds at the end of the game,” added the reigning Coach of the Year.

Alex Cabagnot powered the Beermen with 29 points along with seven rebounds and four assists, while June Mar Fajardo added 26 markers — 13 in the final frame alone — on top of nine boards and a steal.

SMB seemed to have the Bolts’ number early as they posted a 22-point lead in the second frame. But Meralco had other things in mind, unleashing a fiery rally in the second half that eventually trimmed the deficit to just one, 72-71, in the third.

The Beermen were able to push their lead back to wider gaps thereafter, but the Orangemen closed in by a single possession yet again, 85-80, after KG Cañaleta’s three-pointer with 8:57 remaining in the final period.

After that mini-run by the team in blue, however, Fajardo then took over for San Miguel, scoring 13 of the team’s last 18 points — capped by a point-blank shot — to put his side up favorably, 102-91, with just 2:20 left in the bout.

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The Bolts tried to mount one last hurrah by scoring seven straight points — punctuated by a trey from Mike Tolomia — but it all went for naught, as Cañaleta missed what could have been a game-changing trey with 9.6 ticks left.

Ross’ charities in the final 5.3 seconds proved to be the nail in the coffin that buried Meralco once and for all.

Marcio Lassiter supplied 18 points, and Von Pessumal added 11 markers for San Miguel, who converted 50 percent of their shots from the floor, nailing 13 three-pointers in the process.

“I’m so thankful that we ended the year with a bang. With this win, I think this will motivate us to play better next time,” added Austria of the win.

Sophomore Tolomia paced Meralco with 21 points on five triples on top of four rebounds and six assists. Cañaleta, the hero in their opening win, flirted with a double-double as he finished with 16 markers and nine caroms.

San Miguel will next face rivals TNT Katropa on January 13, 2018, in Iloilo City, while Meralco will look to redeem themselves versus the Alaska Aces on January 10, 2018, Wednesday, 7:00 PM at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

San Miguel 103 — Cabagnot 29, Fajardo 26, Lassiter 18, Pessumal 11, Ross 9, Santos 8, Mamaril 2, Lanete 0, Heruela 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.

Meralco 97 — Tolomia 21, Canaleta 17, Hugnatan 16, Newsome 13, Lanete 10, Bono 8, Amer 7, Baracael 2, Ballesteros 2, Caram 1, Faundo 0, Sedurifa 0, Salva 0.

Quarterscores: 30-18, 59-41, 81-73, 103-97.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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