The streak is alive for the San Miguel Beermen. A third quarter turn around and an impressive display of composure in the last few minutes paved the way for the Philippine Cup champs to take home their sixth straight PBA Governor’s Cup victory, 96-92, over the NLEX Road Warriors, Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The opening quarter saw NLEX’s Syrian import Michael Madanly take charge of the scoring reins, hitting seven early points to get the Road Warriors’ campaign going. The locals headed the SMB response, with Marcio Lassiter and frontcourt heroes Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo hitting hey baskets to kick-off the trade of barrages. The steady lead however stayed with NLEX, who were one step ahead from the start of the quarter. A 6-3 run in the last minute helped the Road Warriors hold on to the lead at the end of the period, 26-23.
With the unstoppable NLEX bigs dominating the painted area, the lead would stay with the Road Warriors for most of the second quarter. Five straight points care of import Arizona Reid and Chris Ross were just enough for the Beermen to knot the game with just four minutes left on the clock, 33-all. Three free throws care of John Wilson came NLEX’s way however, giving them back the lead before the Beermen could go for the jugular. The Road Warriors outgunned the Beermen for the final stretch of the half to pull away with the narrow 42-38 edge.
A 7-4 start for the Road Warriors bolstered by baskets from Madanly and Taulava gave the Road Warriors their biggest lead of the game thus far, 49-42. But the Beermen soon found their much needed spark, and in a minute’s span, An 8-point flurry put together by Lassiter, Reid, and Fajardo launched SMB to their first lead since the early first period, 50-49. NLEX’s Madanly ended the rally with a three-point play that was answered immediately by a layup on the other by end SMB counterpart Reid. Back-to-back triples from Lassiter and a basket by former MVP Arwind Santos paved the way for the Beermen to take a 60-54 lead a minute later. With the tables turned, the resurgent Beermen led by 12, 73-61, with two minutes left. The Road Warriors, sparked by back-to-back triples from Madanly, managed the trim the lead a mere four within the last minute, 73-69.
One of Macmac Cardona’s patented hook shots trimmed the lead to a manageable two in the opening minute of the fourth, 71-73. Baskets from Ronald Tubid and their import Reid put the Beermen back up by two-possessions, 77-71, keeping their hold on the lead.
Despite trailing for most of the quarter, the Road Warriors were able to slowly trim the gap, thanks big baskets from veterans KG Canaleta and Asi Taulava. With two minutes left on the clock, they were down by only three, 86-89. But just as the two-minute announcement was made, San Miguel’s Reid, hot throughout the game, drilled his second triple to extend the lead to six.
The following minute of play saw the San Miguel import sink a big three-point play off NLEX’s Kwame Alexander’s sixth foul that gave the Beermen a 95-88 edge with just around a minute on the clock. But the veteran titan Taulava kept the flame alive for the Road Warriors, knocking back-to-back baskets in the final 30 seconds. With 11 ticks left, the Beermen led by a mere three points. Marcio Lassiter’s split free throws in the dying seconds was hammered in the coffin for San Miguel.
Lassiter was named Best Player of the Game for his 21 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Arizona Reid had 30 points along with 10 boards to lead the Beermen in scoring. Syrian Madanly led NLEX with 24 points. With the win, San Miguel extends their streak to six straight wins, rising to the top of the standings at 6-2. NLEX meanwhile slides to 2-5.
San Miguel 96 – Reid 30, Lassiter 21, Fajardo 16, Cabagnot 8, Santos 8, Tubid 7, Lutz 3, Ross 3, Reyes 0, Espinas 0.
NLEX 92 – Madanly 24, Alexander 21, Taulava 20, Canaleta 10, Wilson 5, Cardona 4, Villanueva J. 4, Villanueva E. 2, Ramos 2, Lingganay 0, Arboleda W. 0.
Quarters: 23-26, 42-38, 73-69, 96-92