SAN Miguel Beer kept its poise amid Purefoods Star’s searing fourth-quarter rally to hammer out an 87-80 win and grab a share the lead with idle Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Reigning PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos and Chris Lutz came to the Beermen's rescue in the endgame when the undermanned Hotshots made one final push.
Lutz' floater down the baseline put the Beermen beyond reach in the final seconds and sealed the team's second successive win in the season-opening conference.
Without Marc Pingris, Ian Sangalang and James Yap, the Hotshots went to Mark Barroca and Peter June Simon to whittle down a once imposing 19-point SMB lead to just 75-80, heading into the final three minutes.
“It’s a good win for us because with our first two games namin, we beat two (Philippine Cup) finalists (last season). It’s an indication that the team is on the right track,” said new San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria.
Without Pingris (on leave) and Sangalang (partial tear on ACL and MCL) to challenge him inside, Fajardo had a field day inside, leading the Beermen with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and six six blocks.
The Hotshots, who fell to 0-2 to start the season, also missed the services of two-time league MVP Yap because of a calf injury.
Purefoods Star, which got blown off the court in its season-opening game against Alaska, 93-73, drew 14 points apiece from big man Yousef Taha and Simon, while Barroca added 13, seven assists, four steals and four rebounds.
Ronald Tubid came off the bench to score 16 points for the Beermen. Santos finished with 14 while Sol Mercado added 12.