The San Miguel Beermen’s experience came into play as they overwhelmed the NorthPort Batang Pier, 98-84, to disarm their twice-to-beat edge in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals, Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s a good game for us, and we’re able to get this win. And, get the chance to redeem ourselves from our first loss in the eliminations,” said Beermen head coach Leo Austria, recalling their 88-121 loss to the Batang Pier last June 5. “They humiliated us in that game.
“I’m so happy with the team because they understand our situation right now. And we know na we’re not comfortable with this position, but they gave us a chance to win, so I’m so happy for them,” he continued.
Chris McCullough had 24 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and a steal to lead the Beermen.
Chris Ross produced 18 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and a steal in the win, while Arwind Santos had 15 markers. June Mar Fajardo filled up the stat sheet with 11 markers, 19 boards, three dimes, three steals, and two blocks.
The Beermen had already taken control of the game when they built a 71-54 lead during the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Batang Pier had enough fight in them to cut it down to just one, 82-81, with 6:36 remaining in the game.
But McCullough, Ross, Fajardo, and Santos all joined hands and steadied the ship for San Miguel. The Beermen then unfurled a wild 16-0 blast to build a 98-81 lead with 1:16 left to play, shutting the door close for NorthPort.
“From double figures, up to one-point game, but the composure of the players is still intact,” Austria said. “And they know how to handle the situation, but that’s scary for us because this is a knockout game for us.
“Kung series yun okay lang siguro, but I’m so glad the players stepped up, everybody, ano. And ayun, nakuha namin ýung panalong yun, and we live. It gives us another day, or another game to survive,” added the decorated mentor.
Rookie Robert Bolick – who had a part in NorthPort’s comeback attempt – had 20 points and six assists to lead his side.
Mo Tautuaa had 12 points, eight rebounds, and two assists for the Batang Pier. Import Prince Ibeh had 12 markers as well on top of 13 rebounds and a game-high seven blocks. Meanwhile, guard Paolo Taha chimed in 11 markers.
The knockout game will be this Wednesday, July 24, still at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
San Miguel 98 – McCullough 24, Ross 18, Santos 15, Fajardo 11, Lassiter 8, Standhardinger 7, Romeo 6, Cabagnot 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Pessumal 0, Vigil 0.
NorthPort 84 – Bolick 20, Ibeh 12, Tautuaa 12, Taha 11, Mercado 7, Anthony 6, Ferrer 6, Lanete 4, Elorde 2, Cruz 2, Flores 2, Gabayni 0.
Quarterscores: 28-18, 47-42, 73-65, 98-84.