The San Miguel Beermen finally have their first win in the best-of-seven finals series with the Alaska Aces, dominating their old rivals in a fourth quarter turnaround that followed a heated first three quarters to take a 100-86 game two victory, Friday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen led for most of the early first quarter, leading by as many as five, 7-2, in the opening minutes. The Aces however were spurred to life around the halfway point, with a three-point play from Calvin Abueva giving them their first taste of the lead, 13-12. The game took a turn for the physical with around four minutes left on the clock, when Alaska’s Abueva collided with San Miguel’s Chris Ross, hitting the latter’s knee and sending him sprawled on the floor. Abueva was slapped with a technical foul for the second motion, while Ross was able to return to his feet after being helped by teammates and staff. The remainder of the quarter saw the two sides trade baskets, barbs, and hard fouls. At the end of a heated and physical 12 minutes of basketball, the Beermen led 32-28.
Powered by Arwind Santos’ seamless shooting, the Beermen led by as many as nine points in the early second period. With the game taking a more defensive but less physical turn, it was San Miguel who paced the contest for the quarter. A last-minute surge by the Aces however saw the lead trimmed to three just before the buzzer, 51-48.
Back-to-back baskets from Abueva and Cyrus Baguio to open the third quarter gave the Aces their first taste of the lead since the first quarter, 52-51. The game however continued to be a heated affair, with both squads trading baskets and neither team pulling away. The San Miguel cause suffered a serious setback around the halfway point of the period when Santos, the Beermen’s leading scorer, suffered a cut on his forehead after being hit by Abueva’s arm while the two were diving for a loose ball. Both were slapped with personal fouls after the collision. Commotion broke out a minute later, when San Miguel rookie David Semerad and Alaska veteran Dondon Hontiveros figured in a near-scuffle after the two found themselves tangled up after a mild collision. Players from both benches swooped in to keep the two from trading blows, and the two were later slapped with personal fouls. A minute later, Alaska’s Vic Manuel was slapped with a flagrant 1 after wrapping his arm around Semerad’s neck for much longer than necessary while the two were battling for a rebound. At the end of another heated twelve minutes of basketball, the Beermen had the narrow lead, 72-70.
The early fourth period saw the Beermen open with a 7-0 rally to lead by as many nine, 79-70, in the first two minutes of the quarter. A trey from Santos later gave the Beermen the first double-digit lead of the ball game, 82-72. Getting much-needed help from a reinvigorated June Mar Fajardo, the Beermen held on to the double-digit lead for the next few minutes of play, leading by as many as 17. Entering the last two minutes, the Beermen led 100-84. Though the Aces immediately waved their white flag, the victory was marred when Fajardo, the leading Best Player of the Conference, was escorted to the dugout after complaining about pain in his back. He had 15 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks before his departure from the game.
Santos led the Beermen with 20 points, two steals, and four rebounds, and played the pivotal quarter with his head bandaged. Sonny Thoss led the Aces with 16 points. The series, now at 1-1, resumes on Sunday at 5PM.