SAN Miguel Beer rode a hot start before turning back a gritty Meralco comeback for a 101-86 win to keep the solo lead in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Astrodome Wednesday night.
The Beermen waxed hot from the field right from the get-go and sat on a huge 31-point lead at the break.
The Bolts gave chase in the second half but could could only reduced the deficit to 79-88 late in the league's final game of the year.
San Miguel remained on top with a 5-1 mark heading to the seven-day PBA break for the New Year festivities.
"This is what we want, to end the year on a winning note," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria later.
Marcio Lassiter finished with 21 points to lead the way for the defending champions, while Alex Cabagnot had 20 before going out of the game owing to a broken nose courtesy of Cliff Hodge.
The Bolts fell to a 2-4 record after suffering their third straight loss.
Chris Newsome topscored for Meralco with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, but committed a franchise record-tying 11 of the team's 19 turnovers.
The Bolts played better in the second half and were within nine under six minutes left. But missed free throws and turnovers kept them from getting any closer.
SMB 101 - Lassiter 21, Cabagnot 20, Ross 18, Fajardo 11, Tubid 10, Santos 9, De Ocampo 4, Agovida 3, Garcia 2, Heruela 2, Espinas 1.
Meralco 86 - Newsome 16, Yeo 12, Amer 12, Nabong 9, Hodge 7, Hugnatan 6, Uyloan 6, Caram 6, Bono 6, Daquioag 2, Faundo 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Grey 0.
Quarterscores: 32-13, 58-27, 79-63, 101-86