SAN Miguel Beer’s fearsome foursome was more than enough this time, frustrating Alaska, 109-96, on Saturday night in Batangas to boost its bid to clinch one of the top two spots in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Beermen overhauled an early 15-point deficit, outscoring the Aces in the third quarter, 33-21, to turn the game around behind Marico Lassiter, Chris Ross, June Mar Fajardo, and Arwind Santos, who all continued to step up in the absence of injured Alex Cabagnot.
SMB thus atoned for a stunning 10-point loss to Blackwater last week as the Beermen notched their seventh win in nine games to solidify their hold on the top spot that comes with a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.
Santos punctuated the come-from-behind win with his trademark Spiderman dunk off a leakout and full-court inbound pass from Ross that gave the Beermen a 98-87 lead with a little over a minute left as they handed the Aces a second straight loss and fourth overall in 10 games.
For a while, though, the Aces looked like they would get back on track and show the form that resulted in a six-game win streak in the middle of the conference as they led, 46-31, halfway through the second quarter of the Petron Saturday Special.
The Beermen, however, buckled down to work after intermission and showed why they are the three-time defending champions.
Without his backcourt partner in Cabagnot, Ross continued to be aggressive offensively, tallying 24 points on 15 attempts, nine assists, three boards, four steals, and only one turnover in 37 minutes, while Lassiter added 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in 40 minutes.
Santos’ breakaway dunk highlighted another all-around effort of 21 points, 14 caroms, four assists, three blocks, and two steals in almost 42 minutes, while Fajardo also posted a double-double of 17 points and 18 rebounds, along with one block, and one steal.
After turning the game around in the third period, the Beermen kept pounding the Aces and shrugged off a late rally to outscore them in the second half, 68-46.
SMB 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