June Mar Fajardo erupted for 40 big points to lead his San Miguel Beermen’s 113-107 escape of the NorthPort Batang Pier for their fourth straight win in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The reigning, five-time league MVP dropped 14 of his output in the final quarter, where the Beermen staved off the Batang Pier when the latter came back from 15 down in the third and closed within two with 2:29 to go.
Fajardo also collected 19 rebounds, four assists, and a steal in over 40 minutes.
“Wala kaming masabi sa kanya,” said SMB head coach Leo Austria of Fajardo. “His stint with Gilas helped him a lot. He lost some weight, very agile siya. I think we will advise him not to gain any more weight … I hope ma-sustain niya ito.”
Terrence Romeo had himself a stellar outing as well, as he had 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting on top of six rebounds and three assists. Marcio Lassiter supplied 14 points, while Arwind Santos and Kelly Nabong had 11 apiece.
The Beermen started the match sluggishly, as they missed their first eight shots. The Batang Pier quickly took advantage, erecting a wide 18-4 lead that they would then sustain until the intermission.
But San Miguel fought back fiercely in the second half. They stole the lead from NorthPort early, and their four-point lead suddenly ballooned to an 83-68 cushion with 3:49 left in the third canto as a result of a 14-3 scoring blitz.
The Batang Pier would then play catch-up ball after that. They still gave a huge scare with 34.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, though, when Stanley Pringle’s floater inched NorthPort to within just three points, 107-110.
That proved to be their last gasp, however. Chris Ross swished a booming triple from the top of the key to widen the defending four-time All-Filipino champions’ lead to six – and to settle the final score – with 12.1 ticks left to play.
“It was a scary start. We didn’t have a good start tonight. Because of a bad start, we struggled in the first half. Fortunately, the players sense of urgency prevailed. They knew the importance of this game,” said Austria.
Mo Tautuaa led NorthPort with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Sean Anthony had a near triple-double with 16 points, eight boards, and six assists, while Robert Bolick and Jonathan Grey supplied 12 markers apiece off the bench.
San Miguel will next face the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters on Saturday, March 16, in Panabo City. Meanwhile, NorthPort will look to end their funk versus the Magnolia Hotshots on March 20, Wednesday, still at the Big Dome.
San Miguel 113 – Fajardo 40, Romeo 23, Lassiter 15, Santos 11, Nabong 11, Ross 9, Rosser 4, Cabagnot 0, Pessumal 0.
NorthPort 107 – Tautuaa 28, Anthony 16, Bolick 12, Grey 12, Taha 11, Elorde 11, Pringle 10, Lanete 5, Guinto 2, Gabayni 0, Sollano 0.
Quarterscores: 21-25, 50-54, 84-77, 113-107.