College pals Fajardo, Heruela rekindle partnership as SMB frustrates GlobalPort
June Mar Fajardo was unstoppable in and around the paint for SMB. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer gave GlobalPort false hopes of pulling off an upset, turning it on when it mattered and rolling to a 107-93 victory to sustain its hot streak in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen saw the resurgent Batang Pier put up a worthy challenge most of the game before unleashing a telling 25-5 salvo down the stretch to suddenly pull away to their fifth straight victory.

June Mar Fajardo frolicked in the paint with 34 points, 13 boards, three assists, and three blocks, conspiring with college buddy Brian Heruela in leading the balanced SMB attack without injured Alex Cabagnot.

The Beermen thus snapped the Batang Pier’s two-game winning streak, handing their opponents their third loss in five games.

“I was really expecting this kind of game because Globalport has been really playing well,” SMB coach Leo Austria said. “I’m so happy for our bench players, especially Heruela, talagang inagawa niya yung show kina June Mar, Arwind, at Marcio.” 

Indeed, the Beermen saw the Batang Pier to be a tough customer, engaging the three-time defending all-Filipino champions to a see-saw battle that had 44 lead changes and 11 deadlocks, with GlobalPort still leading, 83-80, halfway through the payoff period.

But that’s when the Beermen switched to higher gear, embarking on a backbreaking run to turn the game around and establish their biggest lead at 105-88, capped by an alley-oop layup from Heruela to Santos.

That was one of the five assists of Heruela, who finished with 17 points, six steals, and two boards, against only two turnovers in 23 minutes off the bench, putting up the highest plus-minus among SMB players with a +25.

Santos also churned out an all-around performance of 17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block in 37 minutes, while Marcio Lassiter added 17 points, two boards, two assists, two blocks, and one steal.

Matt Ganuelas-Rosser took Cabagnot’s place in the starting lineup and made the most out of it, chipping in 10 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and one assist in 26 minutes, while Chris Ross ran the show.

Stanley Pringle continued to carry the Batang Pier, finishing with 23 points on 11-of-24 shooting, six boards, two assists, and two steals, against seven turnovers in almost 37 minutes in a losing cause.


The scores:

SMB 107 – Fajardo 34, Lassiter 17, Santos 17, Heruela 17, Ganuelas-Rosser 10, Ross 6, De Ocampo 4, Pessumal 2, Mamaril 0, Semerad 0, Vigil 0

GLOBALPORT 93 – Pringle 23, Nabong 15, Anthony 15, Arana 11, Grey 9, Gabayni 6, Sargent 4, Guinto 4, Juico 3, Elorde 3, Taha 0, Flores 0


Quarterscores: 22-25, 43-47, 74-72, 107-93

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos