SAN Miguel Beer displayed its championship composure at crunch time again as it frustrated GlobalPort, 106-100, on Saturday night to clinch the top spot in the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup after their road win at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City.
Already assured of a Top Two spot that comes with a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals, the pacesetting Beermen allowed the Batang Pier to stand toe to toe with them for the most part, before finally delivering the killer blows down the stretch – similar to their last two close wins against Ginebra and Rain or Shine.
Arwind Santos flashed his vintage form, pouring in 31 points and 10 boards as the former league MVP came through in the clutch with seven points in the last minute and a half, including two on a circus double-pump jumper that proved to be the dagger.
Marcio Lassiter added 22 points and six boards, while June Mar Fajardo didn't disappoint in his homecoming, tallying 19 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks for the Beermen, who stretched their winning streak to eight games to improve to 9-1 overall.
SMB also handed the Batang Pier their fourth loss in nine games to allow Rain or Shine, Ginebra, TNT KaTropa, and Phoenix gain a piece of second spot.
Terrence Romeo, playing in his dad’s hometown, was held to just 16 points on 4-of-14 shooting – after coming in averaging 27.6 points per game, although he dished out nine assists before fouling out after 30 minutes of play.
Backcourt partner Stanley Pringle spearheaded the Batang Pier, firing 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including one made on a coast-to-coast layup that pulled his team to within 97-95 with two minutes left – before Santos scored retaliated with four straight points to practically seal the deal.
Brian Heruela, also a Cebu native, gave the Beermen an early lift, starting in the place of flu-stricken Alex Cabagnot and scoring all his conference-high 10 points in the first half.
Fellow Cebuano JR Quiñahan also delivered in his hometown, putting up an all-around numbers for GlobalPort with nine points, 11 boards, seven assists, and two blocks in 29 minutes off the bench that went for naught.
SMB 106 – Santos 31, Lassiter 22, Fajardo 19, Heruela 10, Garcia 8, Tubid 8, Espinas 5, Ross 2, De Ocampo 1, McCarthy 0
GLOBALPORT 100 – Pringle 21, Romeo 16, Canaleta 14, Cortez 11, Aban 10, Quinahan 9, Pessumal 8, Mamaril 6, Urbiztondo 3, Andrada 2, Maierhofer 0
Quarterscores: 22-21, 51-50, 81-81, 106-100