After getting a much needed boost from reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo in a heated third quarter, the San Miguel Beermen cruised to their sixth win in the Philippine Cup and a share of the no.1 spot in the standings, by sailing past expansion team Kia Sorento, 90-74, Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
The first twenty-four minutes saw the two squads figure in an intense trade of baskets, with Kia looking geared to go for the upset. The tide turned in the second half, when the 6’11″ Fajardo rose to the occasion for his team, dominating at both ends of the court to put the Beermen in the driver’s seat. The no.1 pick from the University of Cebu had a career high 36 points, grabbing 17 rebounds along the way.
San Miguel led by as many as eight points in the opening minutes of the first period, but Kia soon pulled it together, finding a way through the Beermen’s tough defense to force a 14-14 all deadlock late in the quarter. After a round of baskets in the final seconds, San Miguel held on to the lead to end the quarter, 17-16. Another shootout ensued in the second quarter, with numerous lead changes throughout the twelve-minute span. The hotly-contested period ended with the Beermen entering the halftime break leading by a mere point, 39-38.
Both teams put up incredible defense in the third quarter, forcing the usual scorers from both squads to have trouble shooting. Reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo however came in big, literally and figuratively, for the Beermen, stampeding past competition at both ends of the court to help San Miguel widen the gap by a few more points, 64-58, by the end of the third.
After opening the quarter with a 9-2 run, the Beermen became the first team to lead by double digits, 73-60, in the first three minutes of the final period. Unable to end the towering Fajardo’s rampage, Kia could only watch as the lead continued to balloon. Fajardo was subbed out as the game entered the last two minutes.
Marcio Lassiter added 16 points for the Beermen. Reil Cervantes led Kia in scoring with 16 points off the bench. San Miguel improves to 6-1, joining the Alaska Aces, who were dealt their first loss earlier today, at the top of the win column. Kia meanwhile sinks to 1-6, losing its sixth straight assignment.