SAN Miguel Beer turned to its deep local lineup in the absence of an import as it outlasted Alaska, 106-103, in their PBA Governors’ Cup encounter on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The defending champion Beermen, missing injured AZ Reid, overhauled a late 11-point deficit as they pounced on the Aces’ early penalty situation to regain command and prevail against their perennial finals rivals.
SMB dumped the ball to June Mar Fajado, who took advantage of every opportunity as the reigning league MVP poured in 37 points and 14 boards in 36 minutes to put up his highest output since his career-high of 43 coincidentally against Alaska last December in the Philippine Cup.
Alex Cabagnot also came through in the clutch with two three-pointers closed the gap for the Beermen, who improved to a 5-2 win-loss record to gain a share of second spot with Ginebra and Mahindra.
Chris Ross, in his first game back after a torn meniscus sidelined him last game, shone on defense as he preserved the result with a block on LaDontae Henton’s potential overtime-sending three-point attempt.
“The good thing about having no import was that every player was challenged,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. It’s a blessing in disguise. Lumabas talaga ang totoong laro namin.”
The Beermen also reasserted their mastery of the Aces, stretching their winning streak against Alaska to six games dating back to their historic Philippine Cup conquest as their opponents absorbed a fifth loss in seven games this conference.
Henton fired a game-high 45 points to lead the Aces, who erased an early deficit and looked poised to gain a measure of vengeance against the Beermen as they protected a 94-83 lead with less than six minutes left, before allowing the Beermen to make a comeback.
SMB 106 – Fajardo 37, Cabagnot 17, Lassiter 12, Santos 11, Reyes 10, David 5, Ross 5, Arana 4, Tubid 3, De Ocampo 2, Semerad 0
ALASKA 103 - Henton 45, Abueva 15, Casio 13, Jazul 11, Baclao 6, Banchero 5, Thoss 4, Hontiveros 3, Racal 1, Exciminiano 0, Magat 0, Menk 0
Quarterscores: 27-23, 51-46, 72-80, 106-103
Put up highest output since his career-high of 43 coincidentally against Alaska last December in the Philippine Cup