San Miguel displayed the poise it’s been known for down the stretch to turn back Alaska, 92-88, for its second straight win in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Saturday night at the SMART 5G-powered Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Alex Cabagnot converted a three-point play before Marcio Lassiter nailed five straight free throws to turn a two-point deficit to an 88-82 lead with 3:52 left in the game — a lead the Beermen would protect en route to the victory.
Cabagnot paced the reigning, five-time champions with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Lassiter supplied 13 markers as SMB posted its first win streak inside the bubble to hike its record to 3-2.
“We had a break for four days while it was Alaska’s third game in five days. I think that’s one of the factors. But I also have to give credit to the team to the veterans, they stepped up really big,” said Coach Leo Austria.
2013 Most Valuable Player Arwind Santos notched 17 points and 10 rebounds for another double-double performance — he had 20 and 14 in nearly 41 minutes in their 107-98 win over Terrafirma last Monday.
“We are relying on his performance eh. Because we keep on telling him na once he plays well, most probably his teammates will step up. It’s a collective effort eh. If you miss Arwind, it’s hard for us to win,” Austria said.
Mo Tautuaa was instrumental as well for the Beermen, finishing with 16 points, six boards, and six assists. Chris Ross, meanwhile, chimed in 10 markers off the bench and had the same amount of caroms and dimes as Tautuaa’s.
Ross, 35, played for 30 minutes and 47 seconds even if he’s not 100 percent healthy. He has been nursing a banged-up knee and ankle which he got versus TNT, as well as a sprained right thumb that he sustained versus the Dyip.
The veteran floor general, though, hardly showed any of that as he racked up all of his three steals inside the final 1:50, the last of which preventing the opposition to come in closer after drawing by four, 86-90.
“He’s a warrior,” Austria said of Ross. “In an important game like this, he will commit. And I’m so happy because he played really well and helped a lot his teammates in orchestrating the plays.”
Rookie Barkley Ebona and main man Vic Manuel spearheaded the Aces with 18 points apiece in the loss, which snapped their three-game winning streak and dropped their record to an even 3-3.
The Milkmen actually overcame a sluggish start into the match that saw them trail by 14, 9-23, but made a spirited rally in the third canto that allowed them to take a 63-57 lead after an 8-0 run by Ebona and Abu Tratter.
San Miguel will head into a four-day break before taking on Meralco on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 6:45 p.m., while Alaska will look to rebound quickly versus Terrafirma on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 4:00 p.m.
San Miguel (92) – Cabagnot 19,Santos 17, Tautuaa 16, Lassiter 13, Ross 10, Pessumal 8, Zamar 6, Escoto 2, Mamaril 1, Alolino 0, Vigil 0, De Guzman 0, Comboy 0, Gamalinda 0.
Alaska (88) – Ebona 18, Manuel 18, DiGregorio 13, Herndon 12, Tratter 11, Brondil 9, Casio 7, Teng 0, Ahanmisi 0, Marcelino 0, Galliguez 0, Ayaay 0, Publico 0, Andrada 0.
Quarterscores: 27-17, 41-39, 69-68, 92-88.