The San Miguel Beermen put up a convincing win as they opened up the PBA Governor’s Cup Championship with a crushing 108-78 victory over the Alaska Aces to take an early 1-0 edge in a best-of-seven affair held at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday.
Looking like a fresh team despite closing out their semis series last Wednesday, the Beermen had a fiery start and held a 19-point lead during the first quarter. SMB also inserted Chris Lutz in their starting lineup as the forward delivered nine points in the opening quarter, matching his conference-high. Five triples by the Beermen also put up the separation as the tempo went in their favor while also crashing the majority of the boards. Fortunately for the Aces, two threes by Dondon Hontiveros late in the frame helped the Aces cut the lead down to a baker’s dozen at the end of the first 12 minutes.
Contrary to the fast-paced tempo played in the first quarter, the game slowed down during the second as defense started to take place. Alaska’s second unit, which provided the energy for the Aces all-season long, made good defensive stops against the Beermen. However, SMB’s transition defense countered layups attempted by the Aces. In addition, the reinsertion of AZ Reid and Arwind Santos helped San Miguel in restoring their double-digit edge after a JVee Casio three made the game a nine-point affair. Santos’ buried two triples that served as rally-extinguishers while late-half turnovers by the Aces gave the Beermen the grip to hold on to their lead.
Romeo Travis continued his subpar shooting from the field during the third period as he finished the first half with only two points. The Alaska reinforcement missed four of his first five shots of the quarter as the Beermen’s frontline duo of Reid and Fajardo did a splendid job in defending him. On San Miguel’s end, they went on playing through the said duo and whenever the defense came to double or clog down the paint, the big men dished the ball out to the shooters who did their part in providing the perimeter points. Alaska outscored SMB by a point during the period but the All-Filipino champs were still in hold of the momentum.
Eliminating any chances for a comeback, San Miguel outscored Alaska 31-13 during the last 12 minutes of the game to cement the dominating game they showcased on Friday night. Alaska showed no signs of attempting a rally as they missed successive jumpers also due to good closeouts by SMB. Furthermore, the Beermen were also able to score from the free throw line effectively to maintain the scoring in their part. Meanwhile, offense came hard for the Aces as the Beermen started to field in their second and third unit players in the garbage time.
San Miguel was +15 from three-point territory while shooting a good clip from the free throw line, 15/28. They had more rebounds, 55-44 and more points in the paint, 40-26.
All five starters ended up with double figures in scoring led by Reid’s 32 markers. Fajardo had another efficient shooting night as he scored 18 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Travis finished with 14 points in a struggling 6-of-18 shooting all game-long. Thoss chipped in 12 for the Aces.
Game Two of this series will be played on Sunday, 5pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
San Miguel (108) – Reid 32, Fajardo 18, Cabagnot 15, Santos 15, Lutz 12, Lassiter 9, Ross 2, Fortuna 2, Semerad 2, Tubid 1, Reyes 0, Espinas 0
Alaska (78) – Travis 14, Thoss 12, Abueva 11, Hontiveros 11, Manuel 8, Baguio 4, Banchero 4, Menk 3, Jazul 2, Dela Rosa 2, Eman 0, Baclao 0
Quarters: 35-22, 54-41, 77-65, 108-78