Fajardo and rookie Pascual show way in emphatic San Miguel Beer win over Meralco
SMB rookie Ronald Pascual scored 15 points in his finest game as a pro. Jaime Campos

SAN Miguel Beer used its sheer size to overwhelm an undermanned Meralco side, 88-77, and regain a share of the top spot with Alaska in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Reigning PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo threw his weight around against a Meralco frontline left without injured starter Reynel Hugnatan, scoring at will inside the paint on the way to a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds for his ninth successive double-double this season.

The Cebuano big man also got a lot of help from rookie wingman Ronald Pascual, who fired 10 of his career-high 15 points in the second half as the Beermen booked their eighth win in nine starts.

“It’s a good game for us kasi expected ko sa game ng Meralco na i-impose nila pagiging veteran team nila,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after the team's fifth win in a row.

The Beermen, now tied with the Aces at 8-1, were just too much to handle for the short-handed Bolts, who played without the veteran Hugnatan (knee sprain) and playmaker Anjo Caram (sprained ankle).

Former San Miguel star Danny Ildefonso finished with nine points and six rebounds in 26 minutes while going up against former student Fajardo.

Arwind Santos also scored 15 points while Ronald Tubid chipped in 10 for the Beermen.

Cliff Hodge scored 19 points for the Bolts, who fell into a share of seventh to eight spots with idle GlobalPortat 4-6.

The scores:

San Miguel Beer 88 - Fajardo 21, Pascual 15, Santos 15, Tubid 10, Mercado 8, Kramer 5, Maierhofer 4, Lutz 4, Omolon 4, Ross 2, Fortuna 0, Lassiter 0, Semerad 0, Chua 0.

Meralco 77 - Hodge 19, Dillinger 13, Ildefonso 9, David 8, Macapagal 8, Anthony 7, Cortez 5, Buenafe 3, Wilson 2, Sena 2, Ferriols 1, Atkins 0, Caram 0, Guevarra 0.

Quarterscores: 22-24, 44-34, 72-59, 88-77 

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