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June Mar Fajardo leads San Miguel to opening day romp of Phoenix



Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times June Mar Fajardo leads San Miguel to opening day romp of Phoenix Basketball News PBA  San Miguel Beermen Phoenix Fuel Masters PBA Season 43 Matthew Wright Marcio Lassiter Louie Alas Leo Austria June Mar Fajardo Jeff Chan Jason Perkins Gelo Alolino Chris Ross Arwind Santos Alex Cabagnot 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup

Marcio Lassiter and June Mar Fajardo joined hands late in the fourth quarter to help San Miguel Beermen repel a tough Phoenix Fuel Masters, 104-96, and start their Philippine Cup four-peat bid strong, Sunday at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“The first win is always really hard, especially for our team, everybody prepares hard for us,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “Fortunately all of our starters scored in double figures. I did not expect they will score a lot because I think this is the offseason we have.”

Reigning four-time MVP Fajardo top-scored for San Miguel with 23 points alongside 16 rebounds and four blocks. Lassiter, meanwhile, provided 20 points spiked by four treys on top of five rebounds and four assists.

The Beermen led by as much as 17, 79-62, late in the third, until the Fuel Masters unloaded a fiery 18-6 rally — capped by Jeff Chan’s wide-open trey — to inch within striking distance, 80-85, with 6:30 in the final frame.

But then, the 1-2 punch of Lassiter and Fajardo were too much for Phoenix to handle. The duo powered an overwhelming 18-4 spree — ended by Fajardo’ jumper — to take a game-sealing 103-84 lead with 2:36 left to play.

“I really have respect to Phoenix especiall with the new coaching staff. They are out there to show something, what they have,” lauded Austria of their opponents, who gave he and SMB a tough time early in the match.

“I think they’re capable of handling any team. Unfortunately we have an intact line up that is playing really well, like a well-oiled machine,” the reigning coach of the year added.

Alex Cabagnot supplied 22 points for rhe reigning three-time All-Filipino championsls. Chris Ross scattered 16 points, six rebounds, and nine assists, while Arwind Santos chipped in 14 markers and 11 boards.

Chan led Phoenix with 18 points. Matthew Wright made 12 points on a horrid 4-of-17 shooting, while Willie Wilson, Gelo Alolino, and Justin Chua all produced 11 points apiece.

Jason Perkins had a decent PBA debut as he finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Both squads will return to action after 10 days, on December 27, Wednesday, still at the Big Dome. The Fuel Masters will take on Kia Picanto at 4:15 PM, followed by the Beermen’s clash with Meralco Bolts at 7:00 PM.

The Scores:

San Miguel (104) — Fajardo 23, Cabagnot 22, Lassiter 20, Ross 16, Santos 14, Pessumal 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Agovida 0, Heruela 0, Lanete 0, Mabulac 0, Mamaril 0, Vigil 0.

Phoenix (96) — Chan 18, Wright 12, Alolino 11, Chua 11, Wilson 11, Dehesa 8, Kramer 6, Jazul 4, Eriobu 2, Intal 2, Revilla 1.

Quarterscores: 23-18, 47-37, 79-68, 104-96.