CHRIS Banchero provided huge local support for San Miguel in its 77-73 drubbing of the Chang Thailand Slammers to get back on the winning track in the Asean Basketball League Wednesday night at the Nimbutr Stadium in Bangkok.
Banchero scored a team-high 26 points and accounted for the Beermen’s final 14 points of the game to thwart the Slammers’ late charge on the way to booking their third win in five outings and join idle Saigon Heat at second place.
The win allowed the Beermen to bounce back from a 98-96 overtime loss to defending champion Indonesia Warriors last week in a game that saw them squander a 13-point fourth quarter lead.
Banchero, a Fil-Italian raised in Seattle, also redeemed himself after being a non-factor and eventually fouling out in San Miguel’s heartbreaking loss to Indonesia.
The San Miguel guard quickly made an impact upon his return to the game with less than seven minutes left by canning in two free throws to give the Beermen a 65-58 edge.
San Miguel was hanging on to a 71-68 lead following a triple by Thailand Filipino import Jonathan Fernandez when Banchero answered back by nailing the Beermen’s lone three-pointer for the night with 1:12 remaining in the game.
Banchero obviously got the green light to score as he shot 10-of-21 from the field and nailed 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
Gabe Freeman had 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Asi Taulava added 11 markers for the Beermen, who outscored the Thais, 20-13, in the third period after trailing 36-39 at halftime.
Michael Earl had 16 points for Thailand coached by Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant, father of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Fernandez also had 13 markers for the Slammers.
Ex-Beermen Froilan Baguion only had seven points, but dished out 15 assists for the Slammers, who dropped to fifth place with a 2-4 (win-loss) mark.
San Miguel (77) -- Banchero 26, Freeman 20, Taulava 11, Avenido 8, Menk 4, Hubalde 3, Williams 3, Luanzon 1, Rizada 1, Acuna 0.
Thailand (73) -- Earl 16, Fernandez 13, Charles 12, Lertlaaokul 7, Baguion 7, Dawson 7, Kongkum 6, Apiromvilachai 5, Wanna 0, Ghogar 0, Klahan 0.
Quarterscores: 17-20; 36-39; 56-52; 77-73.