San Miguel showed that it can still do well without June Mar Fajardo when it topped Magnolia, 94-78, for a successful 2020 PBA Philippine Cup debut, Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen zoomed to a wide 23-point lead in the third quarter, but had to overcome the Hotshots’ tough challenge. They eventually wrestled control of the game for good in the deciding period.
“Masaya ako dahil na-surprise ako sa nilaro ng mga bata. Both offense and defense, they played really well,” expressed coach Leo Austria, who’s visibly delighted with the result.
Five Beermen scored in double figures in the win, with newly-minted Most Improved Player Mo Tautuaa leading the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds, alongside two assists and two blocks.
Terrence Romeo made his presence felt with 19 points and seven assists. Arwind Santos notched 18 points and 15 boards, while Marcio Lassiter had 17 points. Alex Cabagnot chimed in 10 markers.
“I have to commend the team because everybody stepped up. Maybe motivated sila because of June Mar,” said Austria, since Fajardo watched the game from the sidelines until the first half.
SMB seized control of the match in the second period, then kicked it up a notch in the third canto. It unloaded a 15-4 run — ending in Tautuua’s bucket — en route to a 60-37 lead with 7:58 on the clock.
Magnolia, though, woke up and replied with 17-1 blast spearheaded by the do-it-all Jio Jalalon to slice the huge deficit to just seven points, 54-61, with 1:40 remaining in the same period.
That, however, would be the Hotshots’ last stand. The Beermen got their act together right away, ending the third canto with a 69-56 lead thanks to Romeo, Cabagnot, and Russel Escoto.
The game would never be in question from then on, as San Miguel coasted to the 16-point victory.
“I think with this win, ‘yung belief ng team ay talagang mananatili sa kanila na we’re still capable of winning. I hope in the next few games, hindi kami maging complacent,” said Austria.
Paul Lee had 19 points, five rebounds, and three assists to lead Magnolia in the stinging defeat.
Jackson Corpuz had himself a solid debut for his new team, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Mythical Second Team member Ian Sangalang made 16 and 11.
San Miguel next takes on Rain or Shine on Friday, March 13. Meanwhile, Magnolia aims to bounce back versus Meralco on Sunday, March 15. Both games are still at the Big Dome.
San Miguel (94) — Tautuaa 20, Romeo 19, Santos 18, Lassiter 17, Cabagnot 10, Ross 4, Zamar 3, Escoto 3, Comboy 0, Gamalinda 0, Pessumal 0.
Magnolia (78) — Lee 19, Corpuz 16, Sangalang 16, Jalalon 8, Barroca 8, Simon 4, Melton 3, Dela Rosa 3, Banchero 1.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 45-33, 69-56, 94-78.