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PBA: Arana, Franklin play big in clutch as Converge the first blemish in SMB’s slate

Converge continued to have the number of San Miguel, this time carving out a 107-103 decision to deal the long-time powerhouse its first defeat in the PBA Governors’ Cup, Saturday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

Jamaal Franklin and rookie Justin Arana joined hands in the game’s final 50.3 seconds, providing the steadiness to help the FiberXers complete the upset and put an end to the only other unbeaten run of the conference.

Both squads now tote identical 5-1 records after the playoff-esque duel, creating a three-way tie at second with TNT as reigning champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel seized the provisional lead of the standings.

“Well, it’s big. It’s a big morale booster for us. But we have to handle this win very well. We have to learn from this. Even though we won, there are lots of things that we still have to work on,” said head coach Aldin Ayo.

Franklin led Converge with a full line of 37 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and a block in 46 minutes and 22 seconds of play.

Lead guard Maverick Ahanmisi contributed 15 points and six boards. Alec Stockton, despite fouling out during the fourth quarter, had 14 points, five caroms, and four dimes. Winger Jerrick Balanza chipped in 11 markers.

Arana flirted with a double-double of nine points and eight rebounds, together with a steal and three blocks as his efforts in going up against June Mar Fajardo earned well-deserved plaudits from no less than Ayo.

The fourth overall pick helped slow down the six-time MVP, who eventually fouled out with 2:57 left that left a gaping hole on SMB’s frontline. He left the game with only seven points and 10 rebounds to his name.

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His sixth foul led to Barkley Ebona’s trip to the foul line, a chance that the young big man didn’t waste as he went 2-for-2 to extend their lead, 98-94.

The FiberXers would take advantage of Fajardo’s absence, making sure that their foes won’t retake the driver’s seat the rest of the way.

Franklin pushed their lead to three as he got the lucky bounce to fall in. Arana then denied CJ Perez on the other end, and went on to sink his charities to make it a 106-101 spread with only 37.6 seconds left to play.

“We want to take June Mar away from the game right away,” said Ayo. “I told the boys, just play our game, make sure that we get the pace.

“Make June Mar a liability on defense. He’s probably the best player in terms of offense but may mga lapses din naman si June Mar, everybody knows it. Pero ‘yun ang trade off, and we want to exploit that,” he added.

Converge now shifts its focus on Wayne Selden and NLEX next Saturday, February 18, 6:45 p.m. at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Leading San Miguel, on the other hand, was Cam Clark, who had 30 points and 12 rebounds in the loss that saw Jorge Gallent’s wards fail to sustain the 91-86 lead they built with under seven minutes remaining in the game.

Perez finished with 28 points and five rebounds as he tried to will his side back in the closing minutes. Jericho Cruz added 14 markers.

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SMB committed 14 of its 33 fouls in the fourth quarter alone, leading to 21 free throws — 16 made — for the opposition just in the said period.

The Beermen will take on their ex-import Kevin Murphy and the win-hungry NorthPort on Wednesday, February 15, 5:45 p.m. also at the Big Dome, looking to earn an outright entry to the quarterfinals with a triumph.

The Scores:

Converge 107 – Franklin 37, Ahanmisi 15, Stockton 14, Balanza 11, Arana 9, Ebona 8, Tratter 6, Teng 5, Guinto 2, Racal 0, Murrell 0.

San Miguel 103 – Clark 30, Perez 28, Cruz 14, Lassiter 8, Fajardo 7, Tautuaa 4, Bulanadi 3, Ross 3, Manuel 2, Brondial 2, Enciso 2.

Quarterscores: 29-23, 50-49, 81-76, 107-103

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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