Reigning three-time Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen overcame a sluggish first half to frustrate the Alaska Aces, 109-96, and solidify their hold of the top spot, Saturday at Batangas City Coliseum.
SMB bounced back perfectly from their loss to the Blackwater Elite last February 9, and have improved to 6-3. The Aces, meanwhile, lost their second straight game and dropped to fourth with a 6-4 card, giving up their spot to the 5-3 Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Chris Ross spearheaded San Miguel with 24 points, nine assists, four steals, and three rebounds. Arwind Santos produced 21 points and 14 boards, and Marcio Lassiter made 21 as well with eight caroms. June Mar Fajardo had 17 and 18.
SMB trailed by as much as 15 in the second frame, but turned things around come the third chapter by unloading 12 unanswered points, to flip a 62-71 deficit to a three-point lead, 74-71, after Lassiter’s freebies with 15 ticks to go.
From that point on, the Beermen kept their foot firmly on the gas, even establishing an 11-point advantage, 96-85, after Lassiter’s bucket with 2:41 remaining in the payoff period.
The Milkmen still tried to stage one last comeback, as they closed within five, 93-98, with 47.6 seconds to go, but six straight points by Ross and Arwind Santos in the final 31.1 ticks sealed the victory for the Beermen.
Matt Ganuelas-Rosser chipped in 11 markers, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals for San Miguel.
Jvee Casio had 20 points and six assists to lead Alaska. Sonny Thoss had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Kevin Racal and Vic Manuel each produced 13 markers on a combined 10-of-22 shooting from the floor.
The Aces’ Gilas Pilipinas cagers Calvin Abueva and Carl Cruz both only scored in single digits, but made their presence felt in the rebounding department. The sophomore forward had 12, while the Beast garnered 10.
Both teams will play on February 23, Friday, at SMART Araneta Coliseum. Alaska will take floor first at 4:30 PM as they lock horns with Rain or Shine, while San Miguel will face the Kia Picanto at the 7:00 PM main event.
San Miguel (109) – Ross 24, Lassiter 21, Santos 21, Fajardo 17, Ganuelas-Rosser 11, De Ocampo 6, Lanete 4, Heruela 3, Vigil 2, Semerad 0, Pessumal 0.
Alaska (96) – Casio 20, Thoss 15, Racal 13, Manuel 13, Pascual R. 9, Enciso 9, Abueva 7, Cruz 6, Exciminiano 4, Potts 0, Pascual J. 0.
Quarterscores: 16-26; 41-50; 74-71; 109-96.