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Balanced scoring pushes San Miguel to 2-0 start after escaping Meralco

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Defending champions San Miguel Beermen capped their Ring Ceremony Day with a victory against the gritty Meralco Bolts, 101-85, to end Wednesday’s PBA double header at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Meralco broke out with purpose in the opening quarter with 15 quick rebounds to get themselves into the lead. They built a 23-15 first quarter advantage behind denying June Mar Fajardo touches down low. First year forward Chris Newsome also had a productive first quarter with his three early dimes, while SMB struggled finding the mark outside.

Thanks to triples by Yancy De Ocampo and Ryan Araña, the Beermen woke up from their poor shooting in the second quarter and tied the game at 28 by the 8:30 mark. Their bench mob extended SMB’s advantage to as high as five, but the Bolts responded well in the middle of the quarter. In an exchange of runs, Meralco pushed to lead by as much as eight, but that was erased by a collective effort from the Beermen in the last 3 minutes of the first half.

Offensive highlights started coming in the third quarter initiated by a thunderous jam by Newsome over Arwind Santos. Afterwards, the game was back and forth, each side trading shots and blocks. Chris Ross and Santos teamed up to give SMB a 67-62 edge with over two minutes to go in the third. Meralco lost its grip as they were given a 9-3 thrashing just before the final period of action.

The Beermen scored 31 whopping points in the final quarter, with multiple baskets from different players. Meralco piled on the tension at the 4:41 mark as Jimmy Alapag’s triple capped a quick 7-0 spurt and sliced the lead to 83-79. Afterwards, Santos, Chris Lutz and Alex Cabagnot spearheaded a 16-6 close-out to the match, while Fajardo manned the post to seal the deal.

For Coach Leo Austria, the team was able to pull out due to their experience down the stretch. In addition to the team’s composure in the fourth, he adds “I think yung experience namin nung championship, yun yung nag prevail kanina. Kami daw yung team to beat, pero mahirap i-accept yung ganung pagtitiwala samin kasi lahat naman ng team kaya.”

Arwind Santos finished the match with 16 points, 9 rebounds, and a block. He says the balanced numbers of his team say a lot about SMB’s cohesiveness, and will be key against the other 12 teams. “Mas maganda kung lahat kami may contribution. May scoring, may rebound. Pag ganun, yung team namin mahirap mabantayan”.

Alex Cabagnot scored 18 points for San Miguel, including two threes in the fourth period. Fajardo added a double-double of his own with 14 markers and 13 rebounds. For Meralco, Hodge and Newsome scored 14 apiece while Dillinger added 10.

SMB will have their next game a week from now and will face either the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. On the other hand, Meralco have the Blackwater Elites up next. Both games will be played on Nov.7 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The scores:

San Miguel (101) – Cabagnot 18, Santos 16, Fajardo 14, Lassiter 12, Ross 11, Arana 7, Lutz 6, Espinas 6, Tubid 5, Reyes 3, De Ocampo 3, Heruela 0, Reyes 0

Meralco (85) – Hodge 14, Newsome 14, Dillinger 10, Faundo 9, Nabong 9, Al-Hussaini 8, David 7, Alapag 6, Hugnatan 6, Caram 2, Buenafe 0

Quarterscores: 15-23, 47-47, 71-67, 101-85

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