TUBOD, Lanao Del Norte - San Miguel Beer turned to defense to outduel NLEX, 79-76, on Saturday night in a PBA Philippine Cup road game and sustain its hot start to the season.
The Beermen battled back from an early 10-point deficit then held their ground in the endgame, stopping NLEX in two key possessions to pull off their fourth win in five games.
The Beermen missed four free throws inside the final minute - two by Arwind Santos and one each by Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross - but made up for the lapses with a tough defense.
Taulava was forced to toss up an airball with a chance to tie the game and NLEX just couldn't find an opening in SMB's defense in the final play, with Jonas Villanueva forced to throw up a desperation three-pointer.
NLEX dropped to 2-3 (win-loss).
“I’m expecting this kind of a close game because I know NLEX is capable of beating any team in the PBA,” San Miguel coach Leo Austria said.
“They (Road Warriors) gave us a really difficult time offensively and defensively but our players just held their composure in the end game while we made some good plays and stops,” he added.
Santos emerged as the game’s Best Player after finishing with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Marcio Lassiter led the Beermen with 22 points, Chris Lutz had 13, Ross added 12 and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo had 11.
Macmac Cardona led the Road Warriors with 19 while Taulava chipped in 13.