Bouncing back after suffering their first loss of the conference at the hands of the Alaska Aces, the San Miguel Beermen grabbed their fourth win, 79-76, over the NLEX Road Warriors, Saturday night in Lanao del Norte.
The 2013 MVP Arwind Santos had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and a block, all while coming up big in the crucial minutes of the ball game.
The game opened to a shootout between the two squads, but NLEX was able to pull away halfway through the quarter after a 9-0 run gave them a 16-8 edge. Powered by 8 points from Chris Lutz, San Miguel was able to embark on a late bid to steal back the lead late in the quarter, but the lead would stay with the Road Warriors at the end of the quarter, 21-18.
The Road Warriors opened the quarter with a 7-0 run to build a 28-18 lead, with eight and a half minutes on the clock. The Beermen however responded with a rally of their own, led by the trigger happy Marcio Lassiter, who had 13 points in the quarter. A sneaky put-back by Arwind Santos after recovering a missed free throw gave San Miguel a taste of the lead, 41-38, with two minutes left in the quarter. The Beermen exit the quarter still in possession of the lead, 42-40.
San Miguel continued to pace the game for most of the third quarter, but NLEX managed to stay within striking distance. The temperature spiked in the quarter when KG Canaleta stole back the lead with a massive dunk, 54-53, with five minutes left in the period. The Road Warriors would go on to control the pace of the game, eventually closing out the quarter with a 64-59 edge.
The Beermen suffered a serious setback early in the fourth quarter, after veteran gunner Ronald Tubid had to be taken out of the game after injuring his foot.
The two squads continued to trade baskets in the minutes of the final period, leading to several deadlocks and lead changes. It was the Road Warriors who paced the first few minutes of the quarter, but a slam from Arwind Santos after receiving the outlet pass from Chris Ross gave San Miguel the lead, 72-70, halfway through the quarter. San Miguel looked geared to pull away, taking a 75-70 in the following minute, but NLEX responded with a 6-0 run capped by a KG Canaleta triple to take back the lead. San Miguel’s Chris Lutz responded on the other end to give the Beermen a 77-76 edge heading into the final two minutes.
The score remained unchanged in the final minute of play, after the Beermen missed out on the chance to extend the lead in their previous possession. With 45 seconds left on the clock, NLEX had the ball and the chance to snatch the game. After finding themselves unable to get into position for an easy shot, Asi Taulava would go on to miss the desperation jumper. The ball would bounce off the rim and into the hands of San Miguel gunner Marcio Lassiter, who after being fouled, split the free throw charities to extend the Beermen’s lead by a point with 26.4 left on the clock, 78-76.
Mac Cardona would try to tie in the next play, but the ball once again bounced off the rim and into the hands of a San Miguel player, this time to those belonging to former MVP Arwind Santos. Santos however missed both free throw shots after being fouled himself, but Chris Ross managed to corral the miss. Ross split the free throw charities after drawing a foul, putting San Miguel up 79-76. With 8.6 left on the clock, the Road Warriors found Jonas Vilanueva for the hail mary, but the ball once more fell short of going through the hoop, handing San Miguel the victory.
Mac-mac Cardonia led NLEX with 19 points. The Road Warriors fall to 2-3, while San Miguel improve to 4-1.
Photo courtesy of Nuki Sabio