Huge stops down the stretch while making clutch shots in regulation propelled the Meralco Bolts in securing their first victory of the Governor’s Cup against the San Miguel Beermen in overtime, 106-95 held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
An exchange of baskets for both teams raced the game to a thrilling start, but June Mar Fajardo drained in two field goals underneath as SMB doubled Meralco in the early goings at 18-9. Despite the Beermen taking control in the first quarter offensively, Simon Atkins and Rey Guevarra scored quickly off the bench to trim the Beermen’s deficit. In the last three minutes of the first quarter, the two teams combined for seven points, all from the free throw line to end the canto in favor of San Miguel.
Chris Lutz scored all of his game’s five points during the second period in a good stretch for the Beermen to reinstall a 34-27 advantage. In the ensuing plays, the Beermen slowly chipped in more points to make it a double-digit game cemented by baskets by Ronald Tubid, who came off the bench. Meralco then unleashed a 12-0 run to take the lead at 41-40 as Gary David and Andre Emmett combined for the rampage both offensively and defensively. Two free throws by Alex Cabagnot gave SMB the lead while stopping their scoring drought and head into halftime up by a solitary point.
The starters made a flurry of baskets once again, to open the second half including an exchange from downtown by Emmett and Arwind Santos. The number of lead exchanges grew during the tightly-contested third quarter. Meralco would take the lead for a while, but the Beermen would respond to take the game’s control anew. Tied at 60, Reid scored five points in San Miguel’s 9-2 run to help them build another seven-point edge. The Beermen eventually ended the quarter up by four.
Ronald Tubid punched in two triples to open up the fourth period while Simon Atkins made one of his own as San Miguel opened up a seven-point lead at 78-71. After some stops made by Meralco, the Bolts pierced through the Beermen’s defense as they scored six straight points in the paint including a breakaway jam by Rey Guevarra. Seeing their lead evaporated, the interior duo of Reid and Fajardo took charge of putting greater distance against Meralco.
As Fajardo drained in two free throws to make it an 89-84 match, former Beermen Mike Cortez scored the game’s next five crucial points to tie the game with less than two minutes to play, sealed by a reverse layup with 1:35 left in the game. Arwind Santos muffed his next attempt, but Fajardo came in big in the clutch to putback the miss and give the Beermen the lead once again. In the next play, the teams exchanged turnovers with less than a minute to go in regulation. With 20 ticks to go, a nice find by Andre Emmett to Cliff Hodge for an underneath stab ties the game at 91. After a timeout, the Beermen made another costly turnover but the Bolts couldn’t capitalize at the buzzer which sent the game into overtime.
In the game’s extension, Gary David and Reynel Hugnatan fouled out for Meralco, but did not seem to be a problem for the Bolts, as Meralco scored on multiple baskets to pull themselves against the gassed Beermen. Emmett’s jumper gave the lead for good in favor of Meralco as the Bolts ended up the game on a 12-2 blast. The Beermen struggled with handling the ball and missed a lot of shots down the stretch. On the other hand, Guevarra and Emmett knocked down the game-clinching baskets for the victory.
Meralco dominated the battle in the paint as they had more points in it, 60-38. They also shot the ball better, 54% compared to SMB’s 40%. In addition, the fast break game also came in favor of the Bolts, 15-9
Emmett ended the game with 31 points and 11 rebounds, while David contributed huge off the bench with 23 markers on 10 out of 13 shooting. Fajardo paced the Beermen with 22 markers and grabbed 16 boards in his squad’s second straight loss to open up the new conference.
Meralco(106) – Emmett 31, David 23, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 10, Cortez 8, Atkins 5, Wilson 2, Anthony 2, Sena 2, Caram 2
San Miguel(95) – Fajardo 22, Santos 14, Reid 13, Lassiter 13, Cabagnot 9, Tubid 8, Espinas 6, Ross 5, Lutz 5, Omolon 0
Quarters: 22-26, 38-42, 65-72, 91-91, 106-95