Another double-double performance from import Tyler Wilkerson, and a gutsy 20-point outing from reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, were just what the San Miguel Beermen needed to take their second win in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, edging out the Blackwater Elite, 108-96, Wednesday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Blackwater were in control early in the first quarter, with import MJ Rhett nailing six early points to give the Elite a head start. Despite trailing for those first few minutes, the Beermen found a way to get back into the contest, after import Wilkerson exploded for 10 points, all in the last five minutes of the quarter. Wilkerson’s late start gave San Miguel the means to grab the lead just before the buzzer, 18-17.
While their prized import took some much-needed rest, the Elite took control of the scoring, while the Beermen continued to rely on the expertise of their frontcourt to keep their own offense alive. Leading the charge once more was Wilkerson, who had 19 points in the first half, built on three treys in the second quarter alone. Despite gunners Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot struggling to sink their easy baskets, the import’s gunshow was enough to put the Beermen in the driver’s seat. They still led at the halftime break, 46-39.
A string of baskets from June Mar Fajardo made up for a quiet first half and helped the Beermen taste a double-digit lead, 52-39, in just the first minute of the third quarter. Unable to find an answer for the SMB bigs’ renewed push, the Elite could only watch as the lead ballooned to as much as twenty-five later in the quarter. With three quarters of basketball gone by, the Beermen led 80-57.
JP Erram tried to rouse the struggling Blackwater, hitting six points in collaboration with former Ateneo teammate Juami Tiongson early in the fourth, but found no other support to renew their team’s push, as the San Miguel backups continued to rack up the points to preserve the lead. Blackwater were able to inject some life into their campaign in the last five minutes of the game, after Reil Cervantes’ seven-point burst trimmed the gap to sixteen, 82-96, forcing the Beermen to call for a timeout. The Elite’s elation, however, was cut short when Cervantes fouled out just one possession later. The San Miguel reserves had no trouble denying the Elite any more late rallies, securing their passage to a winning exit after the buzzer.
Wilkerson had 35 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 blocks for San Miguel. He shot 4 of 9 three-point attempts in another commendable performance. Player of the Game June Mar Fajardo led the locals with 20 points, while Alex Cabagnot chipped in 13 markers.
JP Erram and Carlo Lastimosa led the Elite with 16 points apiece. Import MJ Rhett had a mediocre 12 points in 31 minutes of play.
San Miguel finally go above .500 at 2-1, while Blackwater slide to 2-3 in the standings.
SMB (108)– Wilkerson 35, Fajardo 20, Cabagnot 13, Lassiter 11, Santos 9, Espinas 6, Lutz 4, Mabulac 2, Heruela 2, Arana 2, Ross 2, Reyes 2, Semerad 0, de Ocampo 0
Blackwater (96)– Erram 16, Lastimosa 16, Rhett 12, Cervantes 12, R. Reyes 11, de la Cruz 10, Gamalinda 9, Tiongson 6, Vosotros 2, Sena 2, Golla 0
Quarter scores: 18-17, 46-39, 80-57, 108-96