In an all-time classic, Tyler Wilkerson and the San Miguel Beermen survived Al Thornton’s 69 points and the NLEX Road Warriors in 63 minutes of action, 131-127, Tuesday evening at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Al Thornton shot 26/47 from the field including 5/11 from downtown. He had 19 rebounds in the game as well. His San Miguel counterpart was equally impressive in 60 minutes of action. He had 58 markers, on 20/35 shooting from the field and 14/19 clip from the charity stripe, 13 rebounds, seven assists, five steals, and a couple of blocks.
The Beermen were up by double-figures in the second frame, 34-18. However, Thornton had other ideas as he carried the Road Warriors on his shoulders as he and his team fought back. The former Los Angeles Clipper scored 11 points in the final frame including a contested game-tying triple to send the game into the first overtime.
“Pinakita nila na they are a contender and with their import, kaya nila talunin kahit sinong team,” San Miguel head coach Leo Austria said about his toughest opponent of the conference so far.
A triple by Wilkerson opened the second extension but was answered by back-to-back buckets by Thornton and Sean Anthony. Back-to-back triples by Alex Cabagnot, the latter a rare four-point play, gave the Beermen a 118-112 lead with 1:37 left in second OT. However, Thornton went on a personal 6-0 rally to tie the game once more. Marcio Lassiter almost ended the game with .3 ticks remaining but his lay-in fell short to send the game into one more extension.
“Ito ang naranasan namin sa past conference,” Austria added. This is just like a conference The importance is this game kasi kaya ayaw magpatalo (parehas). Kaso kailangan may manalo.”
June Mar Fajardo, wanting no more of NLEX, went on a personal 7-2 rally to start overtime number three to gain a 125-120 lead. Thornton connected on a triple and a lay-in but was answered by Wilkerson to keep the Beermen up 129-125. With 23.6 ticks remaining, Sean Anthony was able to score on a putback to cut the lead to just two but free throws by Lassiter with 17.3 ticks left gave SMB a four-point cushion. The Beermen were able to held their end on the other end to seal the win.
“You have to give credit to the boys. They want to win. Gusto nila manalo kahit napakahirap ng game,” an exhausted Austria closed.
Besides Wilkerson, Alex Cabagnot had 20 points and dished out 12 dimes. Fajardo also had a double-double with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
For NLEX, Sean Anthony played 49 minutes and notched a double-double with 24 points and 18 rebounds. Asi Taulava had 13 points and 11 boards as well.
San Miguel Beermen (6-3) next face the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Sunday, April 10 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. NLEX Road Warriors (5-5), on the other hand, play their ultimate game in the elimination round as they face the Alaska Aces on Friday, April at the same venue.
San Miguel (131) – Wilkerson 58, Cabagnot 20, Fajardo 18, Santos 15, Lassiter 11, Ross 7, Semerad 2, De Ocampo 0, Espinas 0, Arana 0.
NLEX (127) – Thornton 69, Anthony 24, Taulava 13, Villanueva E. 6, Villanueva J. 6, Alas 3, Borboran 3, Cardona 3, Apinan 0, Enciso 0, Lanete 0, Reyes R. 0.
Quarterscores: 30-16, 52-45, 80-73, 99-99, 108-108, 118-118, 131-127
Photo courtesy of PBA Images
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