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PBA: Fajardo, Ross, Perez, Manuel too much for Phoenix, lift SMB to win no. 1


San Miguel showed why it remains one of the dreaded teams in the PBA after taking the fight out of a gritty Phoenix Super LPG, 108-100, in its 2022 Philippine Cup opener, Wednesday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The quartet of June Mar Fajardo, Vic Manuel, CJ Perez, and Chris Ross took turns in nailing big shot after big shot in the endgame as the Beermen flexed their star power for a successful start to their bid of regaining all-Filipino rule.

“I think this is the first time we have an offseason training, and we’re able to address ‘yung mga kinakailangan namin, especially ‘yung chemistry. And nakita naman natin kanina na ginagawa nila,” said head coach Leo Austria.

Six-time MVP Fajardo finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, on top of his six assists, three blocks, and a steal, churning out an impressive outing just a few hours after announcing his donation drive for the entire season.

“Para sa mama ko ‘yun, hindi para sa akin. Gusto ko lang maging proud ‘yung mama ko sakin,” said the Cebuano star, who’s raised P4,800 so far as he’s pledged to donate Php 200 for every point he’ll score.

Manuel finished with 24 points as well on an 11-of-15 clip from the floor. Perez supplied 19 points, six rebounds, and four steals, as Ross submitted a double-double of his own with 17 markers and 12 dimes.

All four played a big role in warding off Phoenix in the final minutes, with Manuel responsible for stretching their lead to eight with 38 ticks to go.

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The opposition, though, managed to cut the deficit to half behind the rare four-point play of Matthew Wright. But Ross and Fajardo were there to stop an uprising from taking place by dealing the killer blows.

“I’m expecting na every game, it will be a hard game for us because kami ‘yung team to beat na iniisip lagi nila pagdating ng All-Filipino,” Austria said.

San Miguel played without Terrence Romeo, who’s still recovering from back spasms. It also didn’t field Robbie Herndon as he has only been with the Beermen for days since being traded by Converge for future picks.

SMB has its sights set on going up 2-0 in the conference against another 1-0 team in NLEX on Friday, June 10, 3:00 p.m. at Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Wright led Phoenix with 22 points in the defeat, which also spoiled the debut of Javee Mocon. Traded by Rain or Shine just this Tuesday after failing to come to terms for a new pact, the four-year pro had five points and seven rebounds.

Rookies Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano provided the silver linings in the loss as they finished with 17 and 15 markers, respectively.

The Fuel Masters (0-1) now turn their attention to the debuting Meralco on Saturday, June 11, 7:15 p.m. also at the Ynares Center.

The Scores

San Miguel 108 – Fajardo 24, Manuel 24, Perez 19, Ross 17, Brondial 9, Tautuaa 8, Lassiter 6, Pessumal 1, Enciso 0.

Phoenix 100 – Wright 22, Tio 17, Perkins 15, Serrano 15, Jazul 9, Mocon 5, Lalata 5, Pascual 4, Melecio 3, Manganti 3, Muyang 2, Porter 0, Rios 0, Garcia 0.

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Quarterscores: 23-25, 54-51, 83-77, 108-100

Written By

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


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