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Santos’ game-winning putback lifts SMB over gritty Barako Bull for solo first

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Being in the right place at the right time, after a loose ball scramble, led to an Arwind Santos putback that lifted the San Miguel Beermen to a 106-105 escape over the Barako Bull Energy Cola at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Sunday afternoon.

The Beermen’s plan of attack was to feed the ball from the get go to their big men. This paid early dividends, with June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos already combining for 12 early points on perfect shooting from two-point distance. Barako Bull tried to keep pace, with five early deadlocks in the quarter and Willie Wilson already posting six points and five boards. However, Marcio Lassiter drained two quick triples off the bench to power the Beermen to a 10-0 closeout in the first quarter.

Lassiter and Chris Ross combined for SMB’s first baskets of the second period as they extended their lead to 36-26 by the 8:49 mark. Unfortunately for the Beermen, the rest of the first half went the way of Barako Bull, who uncorked a sizzling shooting display from downtown. The run was anchored by Josh Urbiztondo, who scored 17 points in the quarter including five triples. Energy Cola turned it around after outscoring the Beermen 37-20 in the period as they ended up with the 55-48 halftime lead and limiting San Miguel to only three points in the last five minutes.

Arwind Santos scored six on the 11-6 run put up by the Beermen in four minutes to open up the new half. However, a timely 5-point swing including a triple by former SMB player Mick Pennisi and a one-handed jam by JC Intal kept the Beermen at bay. For the remainder of the third, Barako held onto the lead as two free throws by Caperal served as the quarter’s last points to give Energy a four point cushion after three quarters.

San Miguel had its best scoring quarter in the final one as they tallied 30 in the down-the-wire frame. The closely-contested period had the game knotted at 98 with 2:25 remaining in the period. Afterwards, Tubid and Fajardo made timely baskets to give SMB a momentary hold of the lead. Barako responded with a 5-0 counter capped by a big three-ball by RR Garcia with 10 ticks left in the match. On SMB’s last possession, Marcio Lassiter attempted a long two-pointer that went black, and the battle for the rebound went the way of Santos who then provided the game-winning bucket.

Fajardo had another monstrous 28-point, 20-rebound effort in the win, including 11-of-17 shooting from the field and two blocks. Ronald Tubid and Arwind Santos contributed 16 and 15 markers respectively and a combined 8-for-8 shooting from the foul stripe. For the Energy Cola, Urbiztondo finished with 19 points to lead his team while Wilson added 18 and 11 boards.

The Beermen had 51 rebounds compared to Barako’s 38. In addition, they outscored them by 20 from the inside 48-28, and had eight blocks compared to three by the losing team.

San Miguel are now winners of three straight matches, and now hold a 5-1 record. They will try to make it four straight against the Star Hotshots (2-4), 3pm on Nov. 28 at the Mall of Asia Arena. On the other hand, Barako Bull (3-3) will next face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (4-1) on Nov. 27 at the Big Dome.

The Scores:
San Miguel (106) – Fajardo 28, Tubid 16, Santos 15, Cabagnot 12, Lassiter 11, Espinas 11, Lutz 4, Ross 3, Heruela 2, Arana 2, De Ocampo 2, Reyes 0
Barako Bull (105) – Urbiztondo 19, Wilson 18, Pennisi 15, Garcia 14, Baracael 9, Brondial 7, Monfort 6, Fortuna 6, Intal 5, Lanete 4, Caperal 2, Miranda 0
Quarterscores: 28-18, 48-55, 76-80, 106-105

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