Getting quality minutes from the two MVPs on their roster, the San Miguel Beermen marched to the solo second spot in the standings, after outlasting rivals and sister team Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in a thrilling 79-77 duel, Sunday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Reigning Most Valubale Player June Mar Fajardo won Player of the Game honors with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocks. 2013 MVP Arwind Santos had 22 points along with 9 rebounds. The two MVPs would score all of San Miguel’s points in the crucial final minute, capping off dominating performances throughout the game.
An intense and highly physical first quarter saw suffocating defense, blocks, and dunks coming from both squads, who would trade the lead for the entire opening twelve minutes. At 14-all and 4.2 seconds left on the clock for the final possession, the game would look to be headed to the second quarter deadlocked. Ginebra’s Josh Urbiztondo however would shock the crowd at the arena, sinking a hail mary trey from halfcourt to beat the buzzer put Ginebra up by the three, 17-14.
Ginebra would continue to pace the game early in the second quarter, leading by as many as seven points, but momentum would turn in favor of the Beermen in the final two minutes. After finding themselves trailing 31-32, San Miguel would embark on a 7-1 rally in the final minutes to overtake Ginebra and exit the quarter with a 38-33 edge.
The Beermen would return to the court still fired up from last quarter’s salvo, dismantling Ginebra’s defensive clampdown while continuing to deny Ginebra the easy look to extend their lead. Following a couple of big baskets from former MVP Arwind Santos, San Miguel found themselves leading by double digits, 49-39, with four minutes left on the clock. The Beermen would continue to find success attacking the basket in the final minutes, closing out the quarter with a 61-49 edge.
Tempers flared at the start of the fourth quarter, after San Miguel gunner and former Ginebra favorite Ronald Tubid figured in a shouting match with former teammate Billy Mamaril, who had accidentally knocked down Beerman Rico Maierhoffer during a battle for a rebound. Fortunately, cooler heads would prevail before punches could be thrown and penalties be slapped. Finally finding their touch with the ball and getting the right defensive stops, Ginebra would slowly trim the deficit, coming within striking distance at 67-69 entering the final two minutes following back-to-back treys from Ginebra old-timer Jay-jay Helterbrand. Ronald Pascual however would fire back on the other end with a triple of his own to extend the lead to 72-67 for San Miguel. Five straight points from last year’s Greg Slaughter in the following minute would come in handy for Ginebra, forcing a 72-all deadlock with less than a minute on the clock. Slaughter’s rival and fellow behemoth June Mar Fajardo however would respond with a lay-in of his own to give San Miguel the lead with 24.1 left on the clock.
Slaughter would connect with frontcourt partner Japeth Aguilar, who had the chance to force another deadlock, but was unable to complete the game-saving alley-oop. After drawing the foul from the rebound, San Miguel’s Arwind Santos would sink two free throws to put the Beerman up by two possessions, 76-72. Slaughter would sink another basket to come within two once more, but Santos would sink another two free throws to give San Miguel a 78-74 lead with 7.9 seconds left on the clock. Jay-jay Helterbrand gave Ginebra a spark of hope, draining a quick three on the inbound pass to come within one, 78-77. Reigning MVP would split two free throw opportunities, to put San Miguel up by one. After Fajardo bricked the second shot, Ginebra would manage to grab the missed ball, but would be unable to race down their end of the court to put up their hail mary in time.
Greg Slaughter led Ginebra with 16 points and 17 rebounds. Japeth Aguilar added 15. With the win, San Miguel improve to 5-1 at solo second. Ginebra meanwhile slide to third at 5-2.
featured image by Nuki Sabio