The San Miguel Beermen fail to make the Playoffs, but end their campaign with a win, forcing the GlobalPort Batang Pier to misfire in crunch time to escape with a 106-94 victory Tuesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The first quarter featured a heated trade of salvos between the two squads, with baskets falling from everywhere around the arc. The score stayed knotted for most of the period, but GlobalPort took advantage of a brief lull in the Beermen’s defense to take a 21-16 lead with three minutes left on the clock. Baskets from Doug Kramer and Marcio Lassiter forced a 21-all deadlock in the final minute of the quarter, but the tie was broken by a late bucket by GlobalPort’s John Pinto. At the buzzer, the score was 23-21 with GlobalPort ahead.
GlobalPort top gunner, Terrence Romeo exploded for six straight points in a flurry that propelled the Batang Pier to a 39-28 lead just four minutes into the second period. SMB’s own gunner, Chris Lutz addressed the growing deficit by nailing eight points in a run that cut the lead to three within the next four minutes, 40-43. GlobalPort’s Ronjay Buenafe extinguished the fire, nailing a triple on the other end to bring the lead back up to six. Furthermore, baskets from Arwind Santos and Chris Ross cut the lead to two, 44-46, but the revived San Miguel rally was extinguished when GlobalPort’s Romeo, Caracter, and Buenafe put together another blitz of their own. At the half, GlobalPort led 55-49.
A 6-0 run early in the third capped by a jumper from Alex Cabagnot put San Miguel within striking distance once again, 57-59. Back-to-back baskets from front court personnel, Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo, put the Beermen up ahead for the first time since the early first quarter, 63-60, around the halfway mark of the period. With the Batang Pier’s gunners exhausted, the Beermen were able to regain their foothold, and hold on to the steady lead, leading by as many as six in the next few minutes of play. Reigning MVP Fajardo held the fort for San Miguel, who withstood a late GlobalPort resurgence to take a 76-72 lead at the end of the period.
It was the bigmen who kept the Beermen ahead of the contest early in the fourth, with Fajardo, import Arizona Reid, and enforcer Doug Kramer hitting baskets to help San Miguel take an 88-81 lead three minutes into the final phase of the contest. The Beermen’s seamless shooting kept them ahead of the chase for most of the quarter, but with around four minutes left on the clock, a five-point explosion from Gabby Espinas cut the lead to two, 92-94. The Batang Pier’s much needed rally, however, was easily extinguished when Arizona Reid and June Mar Fajardo collaborated for six straight points that extended the lead to six, 100-94, just as the last two minute mark clocked in.
The Beermen needed only to put up another couple of stops to force the Batang Pier to go scoreless in the next few possessions. The last forty seconds saw treys from Alex Cabagnot in consecutive possessions to put the icing on the cake.
June Mar Fajardo had 31 points, 19 rebounds, and 4 blocks and was named Best Player of the Game. Derrick Caracter led the scoring for GlobalPort with 18 points. The Philippine Cup champions finish the elimination round at 4-7, and have a chance to make the playoffs should they emerge with a superior quotient over the other 4-7 teams at the end of the week. GlobalPort likewise finishes at 4-7.
SMB 106 – Fajardo 31, Reid 20, Ross 15, Cabagnot 13, Lutz 11, Santos 9, Kramer 4, Lassiter 3
GlobalPort 94 – Caracter 18, Romeo 15, Espinas 14, Buenafe 13, Jensen 8, Nabong 8, Semerad 6, Miranda 4, Taha 2, Ponferada 2,
Quarters: 21-23, 49-55, 76-72, 106-94